Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Education and Human Development

Committee Member

Susan K. Fullerton, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Cynthia C. Minchew Deaton

Committee Member

Linda B. Gambrell

Committee Member

Jacquelynn Malloy


Picturebooks are defined by the interaction of words and pictures to convey narrative (Bader, 1976; Kiefer, 1995; Sipe, 2011), referred to in this study as the word-picture relationship. This dissertation study extends on the work of others who investigated young children’s responses to picturebooks (e.g., Arizpe & Styles, 2016; Sipe, 2008a; Sipe & Bauer, 2001) and picturebook productions (e.g., Pantaleo 2017, 2018; Zapata, 2013) by placing word-picture relationships at the forefront of this study. This study employed an embedded, single-case study design to investigate second graders’ responses to word-picture relationships in contemporary realistic fiction and fantasy picturebooks during interactive read-alouds and their application and discussion of word-picture relationships in their own contemporary realistic fiction and fantasy picturebooks. Children participated in nine contemporary realistic fiction and nine fantasy interactive read-alouds, which were further divided into three word-picture relationships taken from Nikolajeva & Scott (2001a): symmetrical, enhancement, and counterpoint. Findings indicated differences in the response patterns of contemporary realistic fiction and fantasy. Moreover, children wrestled more frequently with the genre and word-picture relationship in fantasy picturebooks with a counterpoint word-picture relationship. Children were capable of using words and pictures in sophisticated ways in their picturebooks and more so in fantasy. In their fantasy picturebooks, children were flexible in the ways they used words and pictures to convey narrative and demonstrated further understanding of the meaning-making potential of pictures. When children described the word-picture relationships of their picturebooks, they referenced the read-aloud picturebooks and other texts, peer designers, and the potential reader as influential to their decision-making. Across the study, children conceptualized word-picture relationships as the amount and differences of information being conveyed in the words and pictures, which suggest a developing understanding of the complexity of word-picture relationships. Findings in this study give insight into how second graders navigated different modal resources in texts and relied on this interaction between words and pictures to make sense of the text. Also, the findings inform the field about the ways young children use and make decisions regarding words, pictures, and elements of design in their own picturebook productions.



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