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ASEAN Journal of Community Engagement

Abstract

Indonesia is experiencing a double burden of malnutrition,especially in young children. Many studies show that community empowerment andnutrition education are effective at reducing the risk of malnutrition whencombined with attractive tools and appropriate nutrition and parenting messages.Therefore, we developed innovative picture storybooks as a fun learning tool to equipteachers and parents with a way to improve their understanding and awareness ofthe quality of early childhood dietary habits and social behavior. The studyconsisted of three stages, including formative research, book development, andevaluation. Our formative research triangulated information on preferences andkey messages on food, nutrition, parenting, and child characteristics throughfocus group discussions (FGDs), in-depth interviews (IDIs), and observations of school foodenvironments. The FGDs were held for the children (n=6), teachers (n=6), andmothers (n=6). The IDIsexplored opinions from a story teller, a nutritionist, a communication expert,a child psychologist, and an illustrator team. Finally, books were developed bythe researcher and evaluated by the expert team (n=10) and teachers (n=8). Thestudy took place in early childhood education centers and kindergartens inCentral Jakarta’s urban areas. Children preferred picture storybooks that represented a unique conditionof magical power and provided characters from the fantasy genre. Following theIDI’srecommendations and observations, three picture storybook series were developed: healthysnacking, integrated with messages to stimulate a child’s disciplined behavior;eating vegetables, especially green ones, with the motivation to increasetruthfulness; and a healthy eating portion guide with a variety of foodscombined with messages to motivate grateful attitudes. The book contentintegrated key messages on nutrition, parenting, and social behavior withunique characters and colorful pictures. The expert team recommended theappropriate development of the picture storybooks and emphasized paying attention to cleargenres, text structure, content, themes and ideas, language, vocabulary,illustrations and graphic design, and messages delivered. The picture storybookspresent key messages on nutrition, parenting, and child behavior using anattractive, colorful and unique appearance. These books can be used to teachearly childhood nutrition and parenting intervention by integrating them withother approaches such as story-telling, eating meals together, and othersupporting activities.

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