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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Metareading in Picturebooks: A Dissertation by Melanie McGilloway

IAmStoryThe Twitter has its uses, you have to admit.  The other day I was looped into a conversation there with a seemingly simple question: What are the picture books that favorably portray children reading ebooks?  This question turns out to be a lot more difficult to ascertain than you might think.  Over the years we’ve seen a whole slew of anti-screen picture books.  The message is always very clear.  Unplug and read a book kids!  Does anyone ever say “plug in and read a book” instead?

After wracking my brain for a little while the only thing I could think of was Dan Yaccarino’s I Am a Story.  Yet my new contact Mélanie McGilloway pointed out that even that book could be construed as displaying a less than positive image.  While previous shots in the book show families cuddled together reading/sharing stories, the shots of the family reading on screens shows them all in their own separate worlds.  Not an indictment.  Just notable.

Ms. McGilloway mentioned that this was something she’d considered in her dissertation Metareading in Picturebooks: The Potential of Positive Images of Reading As a Gateway to Bibliophilia. As she states in her Abstract, “This dissertation is concerned with looking at whether images of reading in multimodal picturebook narratives offer a supporting platform in creating bibliophiles.”  When I asked her if I could post this dissertation on my blog she was, quite frankly, a little baffled.  But I assured her that my supremely intelligent readers would find this topic interesting.  She acquiesced and here we are today.  The link above is the dissertation, all 99 pages of it, in full.  Read!  Enjoy!  Ponder!  And big time thanks to Ms. McGilloway for allowing me the chance to put the information here.

About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.


  1. Thank you for posting the dissertation.

  2. Fascinating, and troubling. Thank you for sharing – there are some hard truths to take in here, particularly in the section on limitations.