I have been quietly working on a pet project, a picture book for toddlers, in collaboration with the very talented Thanasis Psaros. Here is a sneak preview:
My experience with the wee one has shown me just how essential picture books are for young readers. They are building blocks that facilitate vocabulary skills, literacy, story analysis, and sentence structure. These aspects are significant for young minds and an important component of learning how to read.
Typically, this type of book format is the initial step in introducing your child to reading and is considered the start of learning the language. Here are my top reasons for why picture books are essential to children:
Building Language Skills
Picture books are often used to build language skills in children. The illustrations in a picture book can provide context clues for words that the child may not be familiar with. The repetition of words and phrases in a picture book can also help a child learn new vocabulary.
Picture books often have rhythm and rhyming words, which make them easy to understand for young learners. This allows the child to understand the concepts easily and quickly.
Inspiring Visual Thinking
Picture books inspire visual thinking in children by giving them a visual representation of the story. This allows children to see the story in their minds and connect to the occurring events. Additionally, the illustrations in the book can provide clues to help children understand the story better.
If the reader has trouble understanding particular words, the illustrations will help them figure out the narratives. Consequently, this will improve their comprehension skills.
They Are Fun
Since many picture books are written in rhyme or verse, they are fun to read aloud. Ultimately, picture books provide a unique and enjoyable way for children to engage with language and stories.
The whole point of incorporating picture books into learning is to make reading a fun experience. If the child’s first attempt at reading is negative or sees it as a chore, there will be no real progress in their comprehension skills.
While fun, however, the illustrations in the picture books are more than just decorations in the book. They are essential learning components that enhance emotions and better develop the story. Therefore, this encourages the learner to look at the different pictures and notice new things in the book.
Picture books can help increase engagement in children’s learning by providing visual and auditory stimuli that can hold their attention. Additionally, the offer of a wide range of narratives and themes helps capture their imagination.
Listening to a parent read a book improves a child’s listening skills. Listening is a powerful skill often applied in learning. Picture books help learn this skill as early as possible. Sitting and listening without talking will develop listening skills. Furthermore, picture books allow the parent or teacher to spend time discussing the words and pictures. This allows the young reader to express what they see on the page, which characters they love, and what events have happened, thus helping build their social skills.
Also, when a child sees a story about character development or skill-building like dancing or baking, they will want to re-enact it. They do this because they want to be like their favorite actor. This helps them learn a new skill each day.
Introducing Complex Concepts in a Safe Environment
Natalie, our 6-year-old, can be a bit… lazy. When things don’t work out for her, she’s easily tempted to simply quit. As parents, we have been buying tons of books for her, including ones that cover topics like perseverance for kids. Some of our books cover even trickier topics, including death: for example, we bought her Grandad’s Island after my father’s passing. When you use a story about potentially distressing topics, picture books help the child understand and better process the information. In addition, they are able to pose questions to the parents related to the story.
Picture books can teach children about a wide variety of topics, ranging from numbers and shapes to more complex concepts such as empathy and coping with loss. In addition, picture books can be a fun way for children to learn while gaining valuable comprehension skills.
I hope that my latest fun project will be able to meet some of these lofty goals!