Journeys of Pictures and Words: Teaching the Italian Language in Primary School with Picturebooks and Silent Books
Picturebooks (and silent books, with images only and without words) are children’s books commonly considered suitable only for young children of pre-school age or in the earliest years of schooling. For this reason, picturebooks are mostly neglected in teaching in higher educational stages. Nevertheless, the educational potential of picturebooks is considerable, especially in the later years of primary school. For example, in Italian language teaching, they can be extraordinary tools for planning didactic projects that allow instructors to integrate the teaching/learning of all linguistic skills and of metalinguistic reflection, which are the main elements in the curricula related to Italian language teaching in Italian-speaking countries and contexts.
The article aims to show the validity of the above claim by establishing a possible classification of picturebooks into six distinct types and by describing some didactic projects and activities developed in primary schools in Canton Ticino (Italian Switzerland). Focusing on the pleasure of reading engaging stories and on motivation, picturebooks enable teachers to pursue ambitious and challenging goals, such as creating one or more new picturebooks inspired by the one read initially or transposing a picturebook into a theatre script. At the same time, picturebooks enable students to develop their speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills.