Arab World English Journal
AWEJ Volume.3 Number.3, 2012                                                                                                pp. 123 – 137

Abstract PDF
Full Paper PDF

Drawings as a Pathway to Productive Literacy

Leong Ping Alvin
Language & Communication Centre
Nanyang Technological University


The role of children’s drawings as part of the writing process has attracted modest research interest, despite recent developments in multimodality studies. Early research tended to focus on drawings from a psycho-developmental perspective, where the child’s efforts at drawing is seen as a scaffold to help him/her move from the pre-writing stage to the writing stage. More recently, attention has shifted to the meaning-making potential in children’s drawings. Little else, however, has been ventured about the relationship between a child’s drawing and his/her writing. This paper focuses on the picture-stories created by two children at a kindergarten in Singapore as case studies. It attempts to show how their drawings serve as new information, capturing details that are missing in the text. In this light, children’s drawings serve as a portal to their make-believe worlds, and can be of immense help to teachers to both sieve out the intended meanings, and lead the children to fill in the missing details using language. The study argues that if writing difficulties are detected and remedied early enough through the use of children’s drawings, further difficulties in the children’s later schooling years can be avoided.

Keywords: early literacy, children’s drawings, writing, conferencing


Leong Ping Alvin lectures at the Language & Communication Centre at Nanyang Technological
University, Singapore. He has research interests in systemic functional grammar, discourse
analysis, and literacy studies. He is the author of ‘Theme and Rheme’ (Peter Lang, 2004), and a
co-editor of ‘Transforming Literacies and Language’ (Continuum, 2011).