We all know/hear/read how books are important to our children. Especially picture books for our little ones. With the pressure of “being the best” and reaching milestones early placed on parents for their kids, it seems picture books are fading in popularity.
The Children’s Book Review takes a close look at the importance of picture books on the development of children.
We all want what’s best for our kids and like the Army commercial, we want them to be all they can be. But parents can often succumb to the pressures of society and other parents to compete. That’s why some parents buy everything imaginable to get their baby to read, they enroll their children in the most expensive preschools, and even skip picture books and encourage their children to move on to more text-heavy chapter books as a means to advance their skills for rigorous standardized testing.
It’s not a new issue, but it was recently brought back to the forefront by the NY Times Article, “Picture Books No Longer a Staple for Children.” The article sadly reports that “The picture book, a mainstay of children’s literature with its lavish illustrations, cheerful colors and large print wrapped in a glossy jacket, has been fading.” Although the article reports that staples from Maurice Sendak and Dr. Seuss still sell, publishers have scaled back the number of titles. Citing the economic downturn as a major factor, the article points out that many in the industry see an additional reason—parents.
But while these parents are pushing their kids to be on top of the game, they don’t realize that the intensive coaching can be counterproductive and they’re missing out on an important genre, critical in the role of a child’s development—picture books.
So why are picture books important?
10. Chapter books are not necessarily more complex than picture books and in fact, their vocabulary and sentence structure can be considered simplistic when compared with older level picture books. Many picture books are written at a higher reading level, use amazingly complex vocabularies and offer interesting plots.
9. The illustrations of a picture book help children understand what they are reading and allow young readers to analyze the story. When children are having difficulty, the illustrations can help them figure out the meaning of what they are reading. The illustrations are also a powerful way to help English learners comprehend the story.
8. Children love art. Why do you think they spend so much time coloring, drawing and doing crafts? Whatever the reason children are drawn towards a book, it’s a means to get them to read.
7. Language: Picture books allow children to practice the sounds of language and as parents it’s our responsibility to introduce new and interesting words at every opportunity. The rhythm and rhyme in many picture books make for great read-alouds and children learn words more easily when they hear them spoken often.
6. Repetition: The repetition in many picture books allows a child to participate in the story. Young readers get excited when they can anticipate a forthcoming line and children learn skills like phonemic awareness, phonics, comprehension and fluency.
5. Picture books are multi-sensory, which aids a child’s growing mind and stimulates their imagination. Not only do the children hear the story, they see the illustrations, and smell and touch the pages.
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