I have been thinking a lot about what visual literacy means for pre-schoolers and my three and a half year old Yakuza Baby has been teaching me a thing or two.

It means decoding and coding visual cues

For example, what does it mean when the black in the eye is looking in one direction or another? Or how is femininity typically communicated (for her, the eye lashes and lips indicate this)? This also provides me with the opportunity to understand stereotypes she’s developing and talk through those (for example, I have been trying to tell her that it’s perfectly ok for men to wear skirts).

It means understanding how visuals work with words and using both together

In the first picture, she writes “mommy” inside a heart as her valentine.

It means telling a story or describing a situation

In the second piece, she tells me me that that’s her wearing her Rapunzel nightgown with her tiara hanging out with her nanny who is knitting an orange dress for herself. Her nanny is, by the way, drawn wearing a house dress with a butterfly on it, which is what she often wears.

It means experiencing the joy and power of creating and giving in a form she knows intuitively

For example, in the picture at the top, she very excitedly told me that that’s a a valentine that she made for mommy (that’s me!!!) with a present of chocolate Yakuza Babies. Awwwww…

-Yen Yen