University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

Book Clubs for People with Intellectual Disabilities: The Evidence and Impact on Wellbeing and Community Participation of Reading Wordless Books

Hollins, S., Egerton, J. and Carpenter, Barry (2016) Book Clubs for People with Intellectual Disabilities: The Evidence and Impact on Wellbeing and Community Participation of Reading Wordless Books. Advances in Mental Health and Intellectual Difficulties, 10 (5). pp. 275-283. ISSN 2044-1282

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The purpose of this paper is to introduce the social and scientific rationale for book clubs, whose members read wordless books together, and give examples of storytelling with picture books in libraries and other community settings for people with intellectual disabilities and autism.

The authors consider the impact of book clubs reading picture books without words, alongside an understanding of the underlying neuroscience (see Table I for search strategy). The authors compare differences in the neuroscience of information and emotion processing between pictures and words. Accounts from book club facilitators illustrate these differences in practice.

Many readers who struggle with reading and comprehending words, find pictures much easier to understand. Book clubs support community inclusion, as for other people in society. A focus on visual rather than word literacy encourages successful shared reading.

Research limitations/implications
No research has been published about the feasibility and effectiveness of wordless books in community book clubs or shared reading groups. There is very little research on the impact of accessible materials, despite a legal requirement for services to provide reasonable adjustments and the investment of time and resources in developing storylines in pictures, or “translating” information into easy read formats.

Practical implications
Book clubs whose members read picture books without words are growing in number, especially in public libraries in the UK. Expansion is dependent on funding to pay for training for librarians and volunteer facilitators.

Social implications
There is a shortage of fully accessible activities for adults with intellectual disabilities in mainstream community settings with a primarily social purpose.

To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first paper describing the theory and impact of wordless book clubs for people who find pictures easier to understand than words.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information:

Staff and students at the University of Worcester have access to the full-text of the online published version via the UW online Library Search. External users should check availability with their local library or Interlibrary Requests Service.

Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: visual literacy, book clubs, Books Beyond Words, information and emotion processing, shared reading, Wordless Books
Subjects: L Education > LC Special aspects of education
Z Bibliography. Library Science. Information Resources > Z719 Libraries (General)
Divisions: College of Arts, Humanities and Education > School of Education
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Barry Carpenter
Date Deposited: 10 Aug 2019 19:32
Last Modified: 17 Jun 2020 17:31

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