June 27, 2013

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

Kids Tackle Visual Literacy Lesson at VSU

VALDOSTA — Eight boys and girls, from kindergarteners to fifth graders, recently spent a couple of days studying visual literacy at Valdosta State University’s Ruby R. Sullivan Literacy Center. Creating original illustrations for their favorite books, the children expanded the traditional definition of literacy — having the ability to read and write text — and learned to recognize and understand ideas conveyed through an image or picture.

Visual literacy is based on the idea that pictures can be “read.”

“We teach the children that you can gain meaning from the pictures,” said Dr. Gina Doepker, director of the Ruby R. Sullivan Literacy Center and an associate professor in the Department of Early Childhood and Special Education at VSU. “By drawing their own pictures, they had to consider what the actual text said and interpret that text through their original illustrations. It definitely is a more higher-order thinking strategy that extends their comprehension of the text.”

The children’s works are on display in the Roberta George Children’s Gallery at the Annette Howell Turner Center for the Arts through July 31.

“All of the children created a picture for the book ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ by Maurice Sendak,” Doepker shared. “It is a great tribute to this famous author and illustrator who died recently.”

The children were also given the opportunity to create two additional illustrations for the event using their favorite award-winning books as inspiration. For that part of the visual literacy lesson, the children selected such literary favorites as “Time Flies” and “My Friend Rabbit” by Eric Rohmann, “No, David!” by David Shannon, “Jumanji” by Chris Van Allsburg, “Kitten’s First Full Moon” and “Owen” by Kevin Henkes, “Night on Neighborhood Street” by Eloise Greenfield, and “Duke Ellington” by Andrea Davis Pinkney.

“They used many different art media to complete the original illustrations, including shaving cream and food coloring with black ink, watercolor, colored pencils, and cut construction paper,” Doepker explained. “The complexity of each piece ranges from simple to complex, depending on the child’s developmental level. I am very proud of the exhibit. Some of the children really put a lot of effort into their illustrations ….”

The Ruby R. Sullivan Literacy Center’s mission is to be an integrated system of care for the children and families of Valdosta and surrounding areas with a focus on building children’s literacy skills, motivation, and confidence. The center now serves children in kindergarten through fifth grade, offering several programs designed to help children in the elementary grades build literacy skills, gain confidence, and be more motivated to want to read for both pleasure and study.

The Ruby R. Sullivan Literacy Center is located on the first floor of the James L. and Dorothy H. Dewar College of Education and Human Services. The fall session will be held from Sept. 9 through Nov. 13. 

According to the National Information Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities, approximately 10 million children in the United States have difficulty reading. Of these children, 10 to 15 percent eventually drop out of high school and only two percent complete a four-year college degree.

The Annette Howell Turner Center for the Arts is located at 527 N. Patterson St. and is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Call (229) 333-5645 to learn more.

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