links intro narrative debleena cornelia lisa methodology conclusions references

collage of illustrations from Croatian children's books


From the first few sentences of her recorded video narrative, "Illustration as Text: Reflections on Literacy Development in a Bilingual Childhood," (transcript and captioned video available.), Cornelia sets up a distinct boundary between home and school. She states that her family immigrated to the United States from Croatia, which until 1991 was part of the Socialist Federated Republic of Yugoslavia. Cornelia introduces her narrative by describing this immigrant language experience:

I think I have a somewhat unusual literacy narrative, or path to literacy than a lot of people do because when I was growing up, before I went to school, my parents were immigrants and they did not speak English, so in the home, uh, we spoke Croatian, and that was really, that was the only language I spoke, uh, before I went to school.   


Using Bamberg’s (1997) notion of narrative positioning again, we understand Cornelia as constructing herself outside both the Croatian culture of her parents and the U.S. suburban culture of other children in the neighborhood. In Cornelia’s narrative, the home in which she grew up in suburban Detroit functions as an in-between space, separate from American culture and its institutions represented by school and separate from the world and values of Croatia, which she learned about primarily through the Croatian children’s books her family owned. 

Cornelia describes images as central to her literacy education during her early childhood, and, in fact, her video literacy narrative is full of images from the children’s books that were central to her literacy development at that time. Cornelia first focuses on children’s picture book versions of classic stories such as Puss in Boots, The Prince and the Pauper, Tom Thumb, and Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which interestingly had been translated into Croatian from Italian. Since Cornelia could not yet read Croatian or any other language, she tried to discern the nature of the story from the pictures.

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