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November 2003Page 2REALBOOK NEWS Issue 14

From the Editor-Opal Dunn

After publishing REALBOOK NEWS for 7 years, it has become evident, from reader’s response and the success of new publications, that picture books now have an accepted place in a many young learner’s classrooms and also in many Teacher Trainer courses. As a University Professor commented, their use is beginning to reach a ‘state of critical mass’. With this in mind, REALBOOK NEWS decided to gather a few REALpictureBOOK enthusiasts together at the Brighton IATEFL Conference and propose to them that it was timely to plan a REALBOOK CONFERENCE. The aim of the Conference would be to act a catalyst to collect recent empirical research as well as review latest methodology and suggest ways forward in early years EFL programmes. The result of this meeting follows with the Prelim Notice on the enclosed yellow handout.

A Conference - Using Picture Books to support early English language acquisition will be held November 19 -21 2004 at the International Youth Library, Schloss (Castle) Blutenburg, Munich, Germany. This Conference – the first of its kind – will be based on Methodology, results of recent research, and aspects of writing, illustrating and publishing. The Conference will be supported by IATEFL, The International Youth Library in Munich, Munich University, London Metropolitan University, REALBOOK NEWS and some publishers who will be sending their authors and illustrators. Further information can be obtained from Leonora Froehlich Ward on office@picturebooks.org .

Some of you may wonder why the term REALBOOKS is not used in the Conference title in place of  picture books. REALBOOKS or authentic books is a common ‘genre name’ used in UK and is not widely understood elsewhere. It is used to differentiate authentic picture books from graded readers, which are used to teach reading to native English speaking children and also, in some cases, children acquiring English as a foreign or additional language. These graded picture books make up the various steps of Reading Schemes which tend to introduce words graded according to readability. Since there are 44 sounds in English and only 26 letters of the alphabet, the selection of words is generally based on a grading of sounds (phonics). This selection, or grading, results in texts using more written style language than the spoken language used by young native speaking children. It is also different from the spoken language most young children are used to hearing and pick-up in the EFL classroom. The text in most REALpictureBOOKs written for young children is authentic spoken language or story language.

The British Council, Warsaw, Poland has organised a one day Conference – Real Books in the Classroom: Using authentic children’s literature in ELT at The Teacher’s Centre, Warsaw on Saturday, January 31, 2004. I shall be there to give the Plenary Introduction and will be followed by speakers from all over Europe including Anneta Sadowska, whose work I mentioned in Issue 13. The British Council will at the same time be holding an interactive exhibition called Imagine showcasing the best of British Children Book Illustrators.

REALBOOK NEWS now includes an additional grading indicating if the book content is suitable for Nursery (N) - up to the age of 6 years, or Primary (P) Level or can be used with either (N/P). In the beginning stages of learning, selection is important if children are to be successful and thus motivated.

The Feature Article discusses Parent participation – underutilised benefits for teachers and children? Children want their parents to participate in what they do and value what their parents say and think. Research now shows the benefit of parent participation. Perhaps we should question whether we give children sufficient, well selected, enjoyable opportunities to share at home with their parents. REALpictureBOOKS, that have been read in class, are a natural way to share participation in English.

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