“Health for kids”. Multimodal resources for popularising health knowledge on websites for children


The aim of this paper is to shed light on the ways in which verbal as well as visual elements are exploited in the explanation of health concepts on two websites expressly designed for children aged between 4 and 12, whose express aim is to popularise health knowledge. The two websites under investigation are approached taking into account multimodality. This provides instruments suitable for identifying cases where the visual mode interacts with the verbal mode to support popularisation. The analysis shows how the verbal mode exploits the visual mode to render information more accessible to children and contribute to their understanding. Through ‘human-like characters’, the images relate to real-life experience. They enhance the information transmitted and complete it with realistic details.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i22390359v40p67

Keywords: popularising health knowledge for children; educational websites; image-text relations


Breeze R. 2015, ‘Or so the government would have you believe’: uses of ‘you’ in Guardian editorials, in “Discourse, Context & Media” 10, pp. 36-44.

Bruti S. and Manca E. 2019, The popularization of environmental issues in children’s magazines: a cross-cultural corpus analysis, in Ji M. (ed.), Translating and Communicating Environmental Cultures, Routledge, London, pp. 182-201.

Buckingham D. and Scanlon M. 2004, Connecting the family? ‘Edutainment’ web sites and learning in the home, in “Education, Communication & Information” 4 [2-3], pp. 271-291.

Cameron L. 2003, Metaphor in Education Discourse, Continuum, London.

Cappelli G. and Masi S. 2019, Knowledge dissemination through tourist guidebooks: popularization strategies in English and Italian guidebooks for adults and for children, in Bondi M., Cacchiani S. and Cavalieri S. (eds.), Communicating Specialized Knowledge: Old Genres and New Media, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle upon Tyne, pp. 124-161.

Diani G. 2015, Exploring knowledge dissemination strategies in English and Italian newspaper articles for children: a focus on legal issues, in “Textus” 28 [2], pp. 109-126.

Diani G. 2018, Popularization of legal knowledge in English and Italian information books for children, in Engberg J., Luttermann K., Cacchiani S. and Preite C. (eds.), Popularization and Knowledge Mediation in the Law, LIT Verlag, Münster, pp. 291-316.

Diani G. and Sezzi A. 2019, The EU for children: a case of web-mediated knowledge dissemination, in Maci S. M. and Sala M. (eds.), Representing and Redefining Specialised Knowledge: Variety in LSP, CERLIS Series Vol. 8, Università degli Studi di Bergamo, Bergamo, pp. 203-221.

Diani G. and Sezzi A. 2020, Scientific websites for children: nurturing children’s scientific literacy through the conflation of multiple semiotic resources, in “Journal of Visual Literacy”, https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/1051144X.2020.1828675 (10.12.2020).

Djonov E.N. 2008, Children’s website structure and navigation, in Unsworth L. (ed.), Multimodal Semiotics: Functional Analysis in Contexts of Education, Continuum, London, pp. 216-236.

Garzone G. 2014, News production and scientific knowledge: exploring popularization as a process, in Bongo G. and Caliendo G. (eds.), The Language of Popularization: Theoretical and Descriptive Models / Die Sprache der Popularisierung: Theoretische und deskriptive Modelle, Peter Lang, Bern, pp. 73-110.

Hyland K. 2002, What do they mean? Questions in academic writing, in “Text & Talk” 22 [4], pp. 529-557.

Kress G. and van Leeuwen T. 1996, Reading Images: The Grammar of Visual Design, Routledge, London.

Kress G. and van Leeuwen T. 2001, Multimodal Discourse: The Modes and Media of Contemporary Communication, Arnold, London.

Lemke J.L. 1998, Multiplying meaning: visual and verbal semiotics in scientific text, in Martin J.R. and Veel R. (eds.), Reading Science: Critical and Functional Perspectives on Discourses of Science, Routledge, London, pp. 87-113.

Maier C.D. 2008, Multimodal communication of specialized knowledge across hypertext innovation and generic tradition, in “Hermes – Journal of Language and Communication in Business” 41, pp. 59-80.

Maier C.D., Kampf C. and Kastberg P. 2007, Multimodal analysis: an integrative approach for scientific visualizing on the web, in “Journal of Technical Writing and Communication” 34 [7], pp. 453-478.

Sezzi A. 2015, Horrible histories e brutte storie: la traduzione dei libri divulgativi storici, in Soliman L., Palumbo G. and Palandri I. (eds.), Processi Evolutivi della Traduzione: Formazione, Nuove Tecnologie e Nuovi Orizzonti d’Analisi, Officina Edizioni, Roma, pp. 83-102.

Sezzi A. 2017, ‘History is horrible. Especially in schools’: remediating history books for children in translation, in Canepari M., Mansfield G. and Poppi F. (eds.), The Many Facets of Remediation in Language Studies, Lambert Publishing, Beau Bassin, pp. 447-466.

Sezzi A. 2019, Go on an art adventure. Popularizing art for children through museum websites, in Bondi M., Cacchiani S. and Cavalieri S. (eds.), Communicating Specialized Knowledge: Old Genres and New Media, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle upon Tyne, pp. 162-177.

Silletti A. 2017, L’UE expliquée aux enfants: le coin des enfants, in Radhut-Gaghi L., Oprea D. and Boursier A. (eds.), L’Europe dans les Medias en Ligne, L’Harmattan, Paris, pp. 157-176.

Stenglin M. and Djonov E. 2010, Unpacking narrative in a hypermedia ‘artedventure’ for children, in Hoffmann C. (ed.), Narrative Revisited, John Benjamins, Amsterdam, pp. 185-212.

Turner S.V. and Handler M.G. 1997, Hypermedia in education: children as audience or authors?, in “Journal of Information Technology for Teacher Education” 6 [1], pp. 25-35.

van Leeuwen T. 2005, Introducing Social Semiotics, Routledge, London.

Unsworth L. 2005, Comparing school science explanations in books and computer-based formats: the role of images, image/text relations and hyperlinks, in “International Journal of Instructional Media” 31 [3], pp. 283-301.

Unsworth L. 2006, Image/text relations and intersemiosis: towards multimodal text description for multiliteracies education, in “Proceedings of the 33rd International Systemic Functional Congress (33rd ISFC)”, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Pontifícia Universidade Católica De Sao Paulo (PUCSP), pp. 1165-1205. http://www.pucsp.br/isfc (10.08.2020).

Vosniadou S. 1987, Children and metaphors, in “Child Development” 58 [3], pp. 870-85.

Webber A. 2018, BAM! Body and Mind [New Resources for Nutrition Educators], in “Journal of Nutrition Education Behavior” 50 [8], p. 849.

Webber P. 1994, The function of questions in different medical journal genres, in “English for Specific Purposes” 13 [3], pp. 257-268.

Zhao S. 2008, From her world to our world: making history on a children’s website, in “Literacy Learning: The Middle Years” 16 [2], pp. 44-52.

Full Text: pdf


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribuzione - Non commerciale - Non opere derivate 3.0 Italia License.