He gained a taste for books even before he learned to read and grandma Rosa was the main responsible, with her songs and rhymes. Diana loved to hum with her. I also loved under the stairs while listening to the stories told by the neighbor who came to help with the heavier yard work when the vine was pruned. There I stayed for hours on end.
“My taste for books started first with the ear, with the musicality of the words, which I came to relive later after my grandmother died, in poetic texts like ‘Tudo ao Contrario’, by Luísa Ducla Soares, which since the read it never left my memory”, he tells JE Universidades.
An only child for a long time, she found a special way of companionship in books. At school, luck gave her with two teachers who insisted on bringing pleasant reading to the classroom. One of them even encouraged free writing. “He bound, with colored paper, to the taste of each student, some notebooks that I still keep, where we were writing our poems”, he recalls. Furthermore, the parents, especially the mother, always valued the role of the book in education. A priority despite the monetary effort.
That’s how, in the company of books, Diana Martins arrived at the University, where she graduated in Communication Design, completed her Master’s in Illustration and now a Ph.D. from Minho. At 32, he is a professor at the Polytechnic Institute of Cávado e Ave (IPCA) where he teaches the curricular units of History of Illustration and Animation and Color and Visual Perception.
The thesis and its tools
Thus, at the University of Minho, a first doctoral thesis on toys books in the country was born, as a corollary of an investigation that involved an analysis of more than 300 object books in Portuguese and their comparison with international reality.
What did you conclude? “The investigation carried out clearly shows that the materiality of the book plays, today, an important narrative role, contributing synergistically to reinforce the overall message of the work, thought ‘a priori’ as a whole, thus often calling on readers of different ages . But it also concludes that valuing graphics and careful selection of support are fundamental, that it fulfills a strong power of seduction, when thinking about or aiming to foster an affective bond with the book as an object, in the early years of the child, before even after entering school”, he tells JE Universidades.
Diana Martins explains that “curiosity, freedom and pleasure” are essential pillars in the process of forming readers. It also tells us that a reduced part of the works promotes a deformalization of the traditional reading process. This – he justifies – “makes the book an attractive object to the touch and autonomous discovery, made to the rhythm and flavor of the imagination of pre-readers and initial readers”.
From his investigation, it is clear that the most common offer in the various types of object books that do not stop appearing is the category of puzzle books or books with highlighted pieces, which often address the make-believe, the chores of the professions. and its tools like playing with the vaccine and the hammer. In ‘mix-and-match’ books, which are very frequent, faces, eyes and mouths are combined at random, fictitious or absurd figures being played, for example. This playfulness also happens in books with children of animals and little melodies or in the traditional poetic-lyrical books of rhymes and languages.
“There are several paths in reading, but these visual objects, sensory seductive, descend on the magical mentality of the youngest and on their appropriate, more palpable appropriation of the ‘real’”, she emphasizes.
Today, the secret is mainly in the physical part of the book and in the design, which presents “similarities with areas such as packaging, theater, architecture” and bets on “managed not bookish but desirable for certain ages”, such as reliefs and small windows that they enhance an autonomous and uncommitted approach to reading.
“In the face of a society with an immense cultural offer and the imperatives of renewal, creativity and experience, these artifacts seek to be provocative”, explains the researcher. He adds that the expansion of the book to children in general, as some scholars and creators have stated, “it passes for being considered an object of worship or a work of art”. In fact, the accentuated commercial nature of the book-product captures the adult, who is the true buyer and activates in the reader a unique graphic exploration, he maintains.
Writing for the little ones is a “very intense” challenge, an elegant exercise in which you don’t want to venture. Diana prefers, for now, to savor the joy of seeing her doctoral thesis edited by the University of Minho and distributed by Amazon, which will happen starting this month. Thus, the time has come to leaf through her first book as an author and let herself be carried away by thought. “I always saw an object in the book that allowed me to experience other realities, experience other sensations”.