PurposeIn an effort to advance visual literacy (VL) education, the purpose of this paper is to develop and test a VL instruction program for 2.5-4-year-old children in a public library setting.Design/methodology/approachThe study was designed as a series of VL workshops for young public library visitors. Each workshop collected information about children’s existing VL knowledge, introduced them to new visual concepts, and measured their engagement and comprehension of the newly acquired material. The study data were collected via questionnaires and observations.FindingsMost of the children who participated in the study workshops showed a solid baseline knowledge of colors, lines, shapes and textures and were actively engaged in instruction. After the instruction, children generally showed an improved understanding of the newly introduced VL concepts and were able to answer questions related to the new concepts, recognize them in images, and apply them in art projects.Research limitations/implicationsThe study relied on a relatively small sample of library visitors in an affluent neighborhood. The findings are influenced by variations in the topics and delivery methods of instruction. The study findings might not be generalizable beyond the US context.Practical implicationsThe study methods and findings would be useful to VL educators who work with children.Social implicationsAs information continues to proliferate in non-textual contexts, VL is becoming an increasingly important educational goal. The study advances a VL agenda and advocates for introducing VL early in life.Originality/valueThe authors are not aware of any other study that tested VL instruction on a group of very young children in a public library.
Journal of Documentation – Emerald Publishing
Published: May 14, 2018
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