In the New York Times I recently read this article, Picture Books No Longer a Staple for Children. This article is scary and sad because the power of the picture books is being lost. To me a picture book is what mac and cheese is to my grandschildren, comfort food. Every time you read a picture book it is fun, exciting, and it provides an opportunity to snuggle close or plop in a lap to share an adventure. The power of sharing the illustrations, making predictions, connecting it to your child’s life are all skills that good readers exhibit. While snuggled or cuddled on a lap you have the opportunity to model and provide a foundation for these skills in an fun and exciting manner. This is how young children learn language and expand their vocabulary. Have you noticed how little children will use phrases from their favorites stories? One of my grandson did just the last week, with a twinkle in his eye, he repeated phrases from a book we had recently read together. Not only was he transferring the language, but we had a special connection that came from the book, and lots of laughter. I have also found that engaging the children with the story is allows them to begin to have an understanding with the connection between what is said with the print on the page. As you reread your child’s favorite stories–stop and just wait a second—you will be amazed because your child will just automatically say the next words for you. You will find that the books they help you read will be the ones they select more and more.
Just because children move into chapter books, please don’t stop reading picture books with them.This is extremely important because of the structure of the sentences, the vocabulary, and the descriptive words that are found in the picture books. In the chapter books you have a lower level vocabulary, and a simple sentence structure which the reader requires at that reading level. In our research we are trying to improve the vocabulary of our students and find this very difficult. I believe that just by providing the younger students more opportunities to engage with picture books, in a manner that is fun, and take away 3 new words would make a lot of difference.
Read and enjoy a picture book with your child, grandchild, niece or nephew tonight.