I came across this post on my Twitter feed, https://strohreads.blogspot.ca/2017/11/the-power-of-picture-book-carrie-davies.html and I felt compelled to retweet it and share it on Facebook. Why? Because too often I have seen parents, in their well-meaning attempts to help their child improve her reading, skills, rush their children out of picture books calling them “too easy” or “babyish.”
Picture books are vital for many reasons. Author Emilie Buchwald said “Children are made readers on the laps of their parents,” and those parents are reading picture books. Children learn so much about reading long before they can read. They develop visual literacy skills, build vocabulary, and develop critical thinking. Picture books are the pathway to a love of reading; they provide a guide for children to make sense of their world, and they introduce them to a wide range of unique artwork.
Some picture books are funny and some are simple; however, many are complex, insightful and thoughtful stories about relationships, global issues, history and social justice among other themes. Frequently they are written at reading levels well above that of young readers although not their listening level. It is a mistake to assume that because it is a picture book, it is “easy.” And it is a mistake to rush children out of picture books. They are safe entries into important and sometimes difficult conversations. In fact, I frequently use them with high school students in History and English Language Arts when introducing new issues, events or people, particularly social justice issues. They are also wonderful examples of style, perspective, voice, character and use of language.
So, don’t rush kids out of picture books or off your laps for that matter. Keep reading to them even after they can read themselves. Keep talking. Keep exploring. Keep laughing. Keep picture books.
Tracy Woodward is a teacher at the Lester B. Pearson School Board (LBPSB) at Options, a satellite location of the Endeavour programme. She is also a member of DKG Quebec, Beta Chapter, and is currently serving on the Educational Excellence and Convention Committees.