Picture books are an imaginative introduction to the world of literature for children,
which plays a critical part in their development.
Picture books are meant to be read aloud so this makes them the perfect reading resource for sharing stories with children. As we read aloud, we are also able to have conversations with our children about what we are reading, and we can invite them to comment on the story and ask questions about it. These conversations deepen children’s understanding of the story. They also help children to learn about the way in which stories and books work.
“Through the rhythm and rhyme in these books,
children experience the sounds of our languages”
Picture books offer children a language feast! Through the rhythm and rhyme in many of these books, children experience the sounds of our languages. The repetition in them (for example, “I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house down!”), allows children to join in by saying some of the words of the story, even before they are able to read. And, because picture books use fewer words than novels, the words that are chosen and how they are used, is very important. So, the rich use of language in these books develops and extends children’s own use of spoken and written language.
And then there are the illustrations! Through the partnership between the words on the page and the pictures, children make meaning from what is being read to them and learn to enjoy stories. But they also learn to “read” pictures. They develop the skill of interpreting visual images, and you only have to think about the number of advertisements you see every day to understand what an important life skill that is!
And finally there is that essential human quality of empathy. Picture books enable young children to join someone else’s world just for a moment. They help children to begin learning how to step into someone else’s shoes and to see life from a different perspective. Developing the ability to do this takes lots of practice, and picture books provide a safe place to start the process.
So, picture books may be entertaining and magical but actually they’re essential! If you’re uncertain about which picture books to give your children, check out our recommended reads.