Contemporary children's picture books provide a rich domain for developing theory and analysis of visual meaning and its relation to accompanying verbal text. This book offers new descriptions of the visual strand of meaning in picture book narratives as a way of furthering the project of 'multimodal' discourse analysis and of explaining the literacy demands and apprenticing techniques of children's earliest literature. Reading Visual Narratives uses the principles of systemic-functional theory to organise an explicit account of visual meaning in relation to three perspectives: the visual construction of the narrative events and characters (ideational meaning), the visual positioning of the reader through choices related to focalisation and appraisal (interpersonal meaning) and the discourse organization of visual meanings through choices in framing and composition (textual meaning). The descriptions throughout are illustrated with examples from highly regarded children's picture books.
Reading Visual Narratives extends previous social-semiotic accounts of the 'grammar' of the image, by focussing attention on discourse level meanings and on semantic relationships created by sequences of images. At the same time, it extends current understandings of how picture books work through its explicit and systematic account of the visual meanings and their integration with verbal aspects of the texts. It will be of interest to researchers in multimodal discourse analysis, systemic-functional theory, and children's literature and literacy.