Picturebooks, cognitive health, relationships and care

Caldwell, Elizabeth (2019) Picturebooks, cognitive health, relationships and care. In: Ageing, illness, care in cultural and literary narrative, 2019-09-052019-09-06, University of Huddersfield. (Unpublished)

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Approximately one third of children have met someone living with dementia and increasingly families are seeking resources to help facilitate conversations with children about illness, relationships and care. Part of the response to this is the burgeoning number of picturebooks written to help boost ‘dementia literacy’ and sustain intergenerational relationships in residential care settings. Many of these picturebooks comprise of fictional narratives combined with vivid illustrations to provide children with a gentle introduction to dementias and a model of how to communicate with and care for relatives living with symptoms such as memory loss. This paper will present an analysis of the visual and textual themes present in a range of picturebooks about dementia, with a particular focus on the devices and metaphors used to communicate messages about health and illness. A prominent theme in the books is the representation of dementia as a condition intertwined with aging. This functions both as a device to distance illness from the child and as a way of obliquely framing life-limiting illness. Books published in recent years also had a strong emphasis on the ‘still the same person’ narrative, which encourages children to preserve memories of happy times spent together as well as recognising their relative’s previous life and achievements.

Item Type:
Contribution to Conference (Paper)
Journal or Publication Title:
Ageing, illness, care in cultural and literary narrative
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Deposited On:
24 Sep 2019 11:00
Last Modified:
22 Nov 2022 14:38