‘Aliens with Einstein Heads’: Creative Storytelling Partnerships between Child, Author and Artist

By Marnee Watkins, Pamela Macintyre and Gina Grant.

Published by The International Journal of the Book

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Pigeons is a Melbourne-based organisation that brings together children from local public schools with authors, artists and individuals from publishing to create shared stories, both written and visual. It is the creative storytelling partnerships cultivated by Pigeons and which are integral to all their projects that form the focus of this paper. In two of their projects Pigeons partner a child writer with a published author to collaborate on telling a story. The ideas for the stories come from the children, and through the exchange of letters the young writers and the authors shape together written and visual stories. The exchange of letters gives the children space to reflect on their writing as well as providing feedback to the authors. The authors use the letters to model their own reflective thinking and to guide the children in the craft of storytelling. The stories feature in two self-published books. Additionally, Pigeons has developed a visual storytelling project ‘This is a Stick Up!’ which partners a final year pre-service teacher with a child to create a visual story. In this project the collaborators exchange ideas through pictorial responses. Inspired by street art, the images are displayed on the side of the school’s water tanks, with the narratives revealing themselves over a period of seven weeks. The final project outlined is Pigeons’ most recent initiative involving a partnership with a Melbourne literary journal to produce a publication in which all major creative decisions have been made by children.
This paper explores the genesis of, and the processes and products resulting from, these partnership initiatives.

Keywords: Storytelling, Visual Storytelling, Creative Partnerships

The International Journal of the Book, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp.53-66. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.345MB).

Dr. Marnee Watkins

Lecturer, Visual Arts Education, Melbourne Graduate School of Education, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Marnee Watkins is a lecturer in visual arts education in the Melbourne Graduate School of Education at The University of Melbourne, teaching undergraduate and post-graduate courses, and supervising higher degree research students. Her doctoral research focused on ‘art rich’ picture books and their pedagogical possibilities for provoking thinking and inquiry in the primary classroom. Her current research interests focus on arts education, artistic and creative pedagogies, and post-tertiary support for primary teachers, specifically related to implementing the arts and literature in their interdisciplinary generalist teaching. Marnee’s professional experience extends over thirty years working in Victoria and the Northern Territory as a teacher, lecturer and project officer on curriculum development.

Dr. Pamela Macintyre

Lecturer, Melbourne Graduate School of Education, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Pam Macintyre teaches undergraduate and post-graduate courses in language, literacy, children’s and young adult literature in the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, The University of Melbourne. She is the editor of the quarterly review journal, Viewpoint: on books for young adults. She has been a member of the National Executive of the Children’s Book Council of Australia, a judge for the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards, Aurealis Awards and CBCA Book of the Year Awards. She is co-author, with Susan La Marca, of Knowing Readers: Unlocking the Pleasures of Reading. Her research interests focus on literary texts, new texts and the process of reading engagement.

Gina Grant

Lecturer, Melbourne Graduate School of Education, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Gina Grant is a lecturer in visual arts education in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Melbourne. She lectures in both primary and early childhood pre-service visual art education as well as in several Breadth subjects focusing on the interrelationships between young people and the Arts. To this end, she has presented workshops at several conferences. Gina is a past-president of Art Educators of Victoria. She is currently part of a research project looking at how graduate teachers are encouraged to use the arts and literature within their classrooms.

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