You don’t have to read the words in a picture book in order for your child to reap its early literacy benefits. Picture books boast rich illustrations that give clues about what is happening in the story. Think of The Very Hungry Caterpillar and the bright, simple illustrations of all the foods the caterpillar eats; a child doesn’t have to be able to read the words on the page in order to understand that the caterpillar is enjoying quite a feast. Focusing on a book’s pictures through a picture walk can offer a fresh new reading experience. Here are a few tips for how you can take a picture walk through a book while helping your child develop early literacy skills:
- Put a new twist on your child’s favorite book. Instead of you reading the words of the story to your child, ask your child to tell you the story by looking at what’s happening in the pictures.
- When you have a new book that your child hasn’t read before, take a “walk” through the pictures before you actually read the story. Go page by page and explore what is going on in the pictures. Ask your child what she thinks is happening on each page. Read the story after your picture walk and see if your guesses were right.
- Ask questions based on the pictures while reading a story. “How does Pigeon look in this picture?” “Can you tell how Lucy Bear feels?” “What are Frances and her friends eating for lunch?” “Can you tell who is the chef in the diner?”
- Ask predictive questions before turning the page: “What’s happening in this picture? What do you think will happen next?”
Picture walks help children understand that items on the page–pictures and words–stand for real-world ideas. Picture walks also help your child develop a sense of chronology by showing the order in which things happen in a story. Grab a few books off the shelf and give regular reading a break while you and your child take a picture walk.
*image from Amazon.com