Why Read Picture Books?

The blog of Stories for Children (online magazine) posted Children and Picture Books: What Parents Might Be Missing.
I agree with them that picture books are essential and delightful for children (actually, anyone) and that children should be encouraged to read them. This isn't the first time that I've heard that children are tossing aside picture books at an earlier age because of encouragement to read chapter books, and it's definitely not the first time I've heard that the picture book market is really competitive and on the decline in popularity. But other than the one study, I don't see evidence of a decline in the belovedness of picture books. Am I in the dark on this? Just in case you know someone who needs reasons to encourage and enjoy picture books, I'll add my two cents. 

The article said reading picture books are:
  • "[an] important first step toward the experience of learning to read"
  • "[an] introduction of art appreciation in the illustrations and hearing the beauty in spoken language and well crafted words and "an act of a physical nature by holding an object and turning pages"
  • a perfect way for an early reader to make "self-to-text’ connections [...] not just in the literal comprehension of the book, but in the area of social development by helping a young child become more aware of other people’s thoughts, feelings and actions".
Cent 1: Picture books are especially useful to teach a reader to recognize patterns, which is a skill used in every pursuit, including mathematics, art, science, language, music, athletics, self-awareness, and socialization. Patterns in picture books include literary devices, such as the flow of the story, the problem-solving techniques, the repetition and predictability or disruption of expectations. The illustrations open up a world of artistic patterns to discover. Speech patterns are often easiest to detect, analyze, and mimic when a brief book (loaded with intention and extremely careful word choice) is emotively read.

Cent 2: Picture books allow for imaginative interpretation in a dynamic format. In other words, the pictures will often do as much (or more) telling as the words in a picture book, and the reader will pick up unspoken cues to form comprehension, but also react individually to the visual part of the story. 

And a hay-penny: You might be thinking, all books, or all books with some illustrations could claim these traits. But as Robert Southey wrote, “It is with words as with sunbeams - the more they are condensed, the deeper they burn.” And in this case we'll take the burn in a good way--that it will make a deep, meaningful impact. Picture books are interactive, relatable, delightful--and we can enjoy them over and over again because they're brief.

1 comment:

  1. Not only have I always ADORED children's books of all types, I've acquired so many being a Kindergarten teacher. Now that I am a mother, I love already having a stash for my little one to enjoy! Unfortunately whenever I start to read to my little guy, he starts squirming and does not love it as much as I want him to. I know he's only 4 months old, but I feel sad! Any ideas what I should do?


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