Original Research

Opening up a philosophical space in early literacy with Little Beauty by Anthony Browne and the movie King Kong

Karin Murris, Vursha Ranchod
Reading & Writing | Vol 6, No 1 | a69 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/rw.v6i1.69 | © 2015 Karin Murris, Vursha Ranchod | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 07 November 2014 | Published: 14 July 2015

About the author(s)

Karin Murris, School of Education, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
Vursha Ranchod, Shree Bharat Sharda Mandir School, Johannesburg, South Africa


The article begins with setting the South African educational context for a postgraduate early literacy research project in the foundation phase (ages 4–9). The research examines how philosophy with children (P4C) might be part of a solution to current problems in reading comprehension. The second author reports on her P4C action research with her own children as well as her observations of a Grade 2 classroom in a school near Johannesburg. The research shows how the picturebook Little Beauty by Anthony Browne opens up a philosophical space within which children are allowed to draw on their own life experiences and prior knowledge. The project reveals the depth of their thinking when making intra-textual connections between Little Beauty and the movie King Kong. The facilitated philosophical space also makes it possible for the children to make complex philosophical links between the emotion anger, destructive behaviour and the ethico-political dimensions of punishment. Central to this article are the second author’s critical reflections on how her literacy practices as a mother and foundation phase teacher have fundamentally changed as a result of this project. The article concludes with some implications for the teaching of early literacy in South Africa.


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