Yesterday I was in the store to pick up a pair of PJ’s and a soccer ball. While walking through the book section to get to clothes section, my eyes fell on ‘Finding Francois’ by Gus Gordon (review here). I couldn’t resist and bought it. This one is a longer book than normal picture books, but Mr 7 was hooked. Miss 17 was moved by the sweet, poignant and hopeful story. They were both mesmerised by the illustrations. It was magic.
Why should you read picture books?
Each picture book is a world of discovery – an entity that is greater than the sum of all its parts. When done well, the text, art, end papers, cover, all blend to bring you an experience that is utterly satisfying. Whether it is a young mind or an old one reading the picture book, the mind is not left idle. It is brain exercise as the reader works out on the text and the eyes get to run around the page for delightful additions and clues in the illustrations. You will pause to wonder and smile, maybe shed a tear, giggle or laugh out loud. This work out is called visual literacy.
A form of literacy that nourishes the soul, while entertaining, increasing vocabulary, teaching sentence structure, opening up creativity and instilling values in the readers mind. There are studies that show picture books contain a large variety of unique words, combined with the benefits of reading out loud, making them supersonic vocabulary builders and boosters of language development.
And there is always the possibility of discussion in every picture book. These effects are instantaneous because you can finish reading one book in under 10 minutes. Of course favourite ones will be read over and over again, which is awesome for anchoring the benefits. Enjoying a picture book with your child is one of the best bedtime cuddles ever, be they 7 or 17.
How do you keep them reading picture books once they start chapter books?
This is a tough one. By the beginning of Year 1 Mr 7 had stopped borrowing picture books from the school library. I often wonder if picture books appear babyish or whether peer pressure leads to this shift. While it is great to see them expand their reading (there are a flood of wonderful new junior and middle grade books out there),
I believe there is always room for a picture book or twenty, in your library bag.
My top tips for encouraging a love of picture book reading are:
- Regularly visit your local library. Pick out at least 2 picture books per visit. One new release and one old one. The librarians will be excited to help you out here.
- Sit down and enjoy reading some picture books yourself. Loose yourself in the artwork. You’ll find it therapeutic.
- Keep a set of picture books in your child’s room. Some favourites and ones not yet read.
- Keep a box of picture books in their play area or even in your living room, by the sofa, under the coffee table.
- Regularly update your stash of picture books from the library.
- Check out non-fiction picture books. These are highly entertaining. Search the library catalogue using your childs fav subject keywords.
- Familiairse yourself with the names of authors whose books your child enjoys and look for more books by them.
- Make a routine of reading one picture book per night. Have fun. Use silly voices to read. Pour through the illustrations, look for clues.
One of Mr 7’s lines that is always on repeat is ‘I’m bored.’ When he is sent to his play area to sit and do nothing, the presence of books provides an invitation to pull one out flick through, especially if it has picture and can be finished quickly. To raise avid readers, books must be available at their fingertips. There is so much instantaneously available to kids these days, through the internet – videos and games. So, surround them with books.
Make that an experience just a flick of the page away.
I’d love to know your thoughts on picture books and how you fit them into your day. Drop them in the comments below or if you have any questions regarding picture books do ask!