Picture books are an incredible literacy tool as they help children understand many important conventions of reading (how to hold a book upright, turn the page, understand left to right print, etc.). The illustrations help children learn to infer and make predictions about characters and events in the story. This is one reason why a big part of our reading routine involves a "picture walk." There is a magical journey to be had prior to reading the words in a story and this pre-reading activity has become a meaningful bonding opportunity for the boys and a powerful strategy for engaging them in the story.
I first introduced the concept of a picture walk before Big A was even able to speak. Prior to reading a story we would look through the pictures together, and while the conversation was one-sided I would model naming objects on the page and talk about what might be happening in the story. This evolved into Big A pointing to objects as I prompted and grew into more of a 'conversation' as his vocabulary increased.
By the time Little A was born I was leading the picture walk, coaching and guiding as we dissected each and every page of the story. We know that children become more engaged when they participate and that children learn more vocabulary when conversing with an adult. Furthermore, stories come alive when children can relate to the text to their own lives. Before I knew it both boys were eager to investigate the illustrations before we read and on those nights when I attempted to shorten the routine [particularly after a busy day or if we were past our normal bedtime] I was met with great resistance. "Mommy, we can't skip the picture walk!"
These days there is a bit more variety in who leads our picture walks. More often than not I let the boys engage in their own conversation about the pictures and what might happen in the story. I love hearing Big A repeat the prompts he has heard me use and the sweet responses of Little A. More and more Little A has started asking prompts, which at this point are more about what he has heard before but will someday be more purposeful. It is the habits and reading behaviors that are forming that absolutely melt my heart night after night.
*If you would like to learn more about the titles we read along the way you can follow along on our Instagram feed (@strongtots) or by searching #strongtotsreads.*
What does a parent-led picture walk look like? Some of my prompts when guiding a picture walk include:
The key is to ask open-ended questions that encourage your child to think about the illustrations, make predictions about events in the story, and point out key vocabulary they may not be familiar with.
ABOUT CHRISSY K
I am mom to three boys (one with several life-threatening food allergies) who will never own too many picture books or create Pinterest-worthy snacks. Simply Chrissy K is a place to find helpful tips on parenting that stem from my work with families as an educational consultant and parenting coach.
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Based on a work at http://www.strongtots.com