6. Early-concept books
This article focuses on picturebooks for young children aged 12 to 24 months. This type of picturebook has been largely neglected in picturebook research, albeit it provides fascinating insights into the literary and cognitive development of young children. Two types of picturebooks will be analyzed: First, those that show single objects from the child’s surroundings which are denoted by nouns, second those that show actions that are usually denoted by verbs. Both book types serve to support the child’s acquisition of early concepts, i.e. mental devices the child needs when referring to objects (ball, apple), persons (mummy, baby), or actions (to hit the ball). These early-concept books, as we call them (see Kümmerling-Meibauer & Meibauer 2005), have important properties from the point of view of cognitive and literary development. Not only do they reflect the child’s order of lexical acquisition, they also serve as an introduction in elementary picture-text relations and text structures. Hence this article is a plea for a developmental approach to picturebooks. Such an approach should integrate insights from a number of disciplines, such as psycholinguistics and developmental psychology, picture theory, and narratology.