Student Research Projects

The Creation of Emotion by Illustrations in Children’s Literature

Student Kelly Keys, ‘13
Faculty Mentor(s)
Department English
Course ENG 317: Children’s Literature


The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate methods used to create emotion in children's literature through illustrations. Illustrators can create two kinds of emotion, the emotions characters express and the emotions readers can sense. Illustrations can express emotion through use of colors, shapes, and character representation, but can also work in collaboration with the text which provides punctuation and the story. Having illustrations create emotion is important because they can help young readers better understand those emotions in the text. To establish and support this theory, I researched scholarly literature on picture book theory and studied illustrated children's literature to test the theories. It can often be difficult for young readers to understand the emotional context of text-only literature, but illustrations in children's literature can act as guides to textual emotion for the children reading these books.