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Bettina Kümmerling-Meibauer

This article demonstrates, on the basis of recent research in film studies and media literacy, that filmic paratexts play a significant role in contemporary children's films. It shows that paratexts effectively comment on feature films by, for example, anticipating the film's plot and characters in the opening credits, and by pursuing the film plot in the end titles. Thorough analysis of children's films reveals that paratexts stimulate the child viewer to develop a competency that might be characterized as “meta-filmic awareness”, which is the capacity to distinguish between different levels of plot, communication, or complexity within a film. In keeping with these findings, this article represents an exploration of what we might call a meta-critical approach toward children's films.