In her bachelor thesis, “Schamlos im Bilderbuch” (“Shameless in picture books”) in the field of “Identity and Design” Larissa Zielbauer deals with the feeling of shame in childhood. When does shame arise, how do we express it and how do we talk about it? For this purpose, a picture book and a Kamishibai were created and have been honoured with the audience award in the Cologne Design Award 2023.

“Shame is something like the Cinderella among feelings. Because you don’t talk about shame; you don’t show it either, but hide it, keep it secret. In the present day, shame itself has become something that many people are ashamed of.” 

(Marks 2021)

Based on a theoretical examination of the phenomenon of shame and a self-conducted art lab, two pieces were created for the bachelor thesis that offer children and their caregivers a space to talk about the feeling of shame and to process it in everyday life. It is not always easy to speak about feelings with younger children, nor to understand how children perceive and express them.

In an art lab workshop, the target group was involved in the creation of the picture book and the children themselves became “experts” on the topic of shame. How do the children approach the topic of shame artistically, in what form do they implement the topic creatively, and which aspects emerge as important moments in the children’s works?

The work is about dealing with shame in an empathetic, respectful, fear-free, and confident manner. If a child’s feeling is bypassed, ridiculed, or dismissed as unimportant, he or she will close himself or herself off in upcoming emotional situations. This makes it even more important for caregivers to create a balance between autonomy and dependence, and to help children categorize their own feelings without being overwhelmed by those emotions themselves.

Problem-oriented (picture) books about feelings such as anger, fear, and courage are a dime a dozen these days. Yet shame is hardly given any attention.

The Kamishibai “Das Schamäleon” and the picture book “Kritzelknäuel. Frida schämt sich. Nicht.” show how important it is to lose the “shame of shame”. The kamishibai card set and picture book are primarily aimed at three- to six-year-old children. This is an age when children first begin to experience shame for themselves.

The two works: “Das Schamäleon” and “Kritzelknäuel. Frida schämt sich. Nicht.” were illustrated by Annika Demmer and published by himmelbau Verlag in Cologne. They have been available on the market since the beginning of 2023.


Project partners:

Himmelbau, Bundesverband Leseförderung, Kunstraum Courage, Netzwerk Frühkindlich Kulturelle Bildung, Forum Kamishibai