...from images to words and back again

Boy Overboard

Children, parents and teachers often talk of leaving picturebooks behind and only reading chapter books, while some reluctant readers seem to be forever stuck at this transition stage, giving up their picturebooks and in essence giving up on reading. The loss of the support and pleasure of the images can also contribute to this reluctance. In selecting a chapter book we were conscious of the challenges the book would represent to many children as well as the need to find a text withwide appeal to ten and eleven year olds from diverse backgrounds.

'Boy Overboard' by Morris Gleitzman is a chapter book with global appeal, a story of two children Jamal and Bibi who live in Afghanistan, and who make an incredible journey to reach Australia. Although the book has no illustrations, the author uses language and humour to create memorable mental images of settings, characters and feelings. As Gleitzman explained in workshop session run for the children and teachers who participated in the project, finding an opening sentence that hooked the reader for a book about war, despair and hope was vital, so he selected the theme of football as his way into the book. The football motif is used throughout the storyline to carry the plot forward from the first sentence:

'I'm Manchester United and I've got the ball and everything is good.'

Important political issues connected to the educational suppression of woman and culture are tackled in the book using the strong female characters of Bibi and her mother. Likewise, important issues of refugee camps, refugee journeys and the status of refugees entering Australia are dealt with in the plotline. Gleitzman uses cliffhangers to persuade the reader to read on and reach the poignant conclusion which sees Jamal and Bibi find the safety of an internment camp on an Australian island.

Featured Books

View the texts, which were used during this project and find out what made them suitable for use in the classroom.

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Teaching Tools

Start your own journey of discovery by using our set of teaching tools, practical in-class activities, and suggestions to help children from diverse backgrounds enhance their language and literacy skills.

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Research in Full

View the project reseach in full and download the extended Teaching Pack to compliment our teaching tools and suggestions. You can also discover related academic publication in visual literacy and intercultural responses.

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