How reading (and re reading) picturebooks can help children become independent readers
Many picturebooks include rhyme and repetition
- Picture books which rhyme help children predict the word which comes next and start to recognise the letter patterns in rhyming words. See our activity page for Shark in the Park and also our Top 10 rhyming picture books:
- Picture books with repeated phrases can help children predict what comes next and recognise the repeated words eg Not Now Bernard or Brown Bear Brown Bear What do you see?
By reading a book aloud to your child they will hear how the words on the page sound, and start to notice the rhyme or the repetition. You can point this out when you read the book again to them and perhaps pause to encourage your child to complete the rhyme or the repeated phrase. By showing your child where the words are on the page they will be able to match what they hear with what is written down.
Illustrations are the gateway to reading for deeper meaning
Illustrations help children read unfamiliar words. Reading a new word requires children to use lots of information at once, this includes not only how letters and sounds build into words but also what might makes sense in the story. Children can predict what a new word might be by looking for clues in the pictures.
- A picturebook offers a reading experience which involves interpreting the illustrations as well as the words. Illustrations add lots of extra information and layers of meaning to the storytelling and children will notice more in them when they share a book with you for a second time. (Probably you will too!) For example, can you spot exactly when George loses his magic hat in Almost Anything or how difficult it is for Iris to hide a lion in Helen Stephen’s How to Hide a Lion?
Picture books are exciting
Children are most likely to develop as readers if they find books and reading exciting, want to look at books more than once and spend time reading, with you and on their own too. They will be drawn to illustrations in fantastic picture books. For example Man on the Moon (a day in the life of Bob) fascinates and amuses young readers with its stunning illustrations. See our top ten lists and our themed collections for lots of ideas.
Picture books lead to great conversations
Even though apparently simple there are often big ideas inside picture books. For example with Ed Vere’s Grumpy Frog you can talk about how the character is feeling and what other characters might think about him and then maybe go onto talk about prejudice, compromise and what it means to be a good friend.
Even if your bedtime read is more often than not a children’s novel don’t forget to read them picture books too. They can help turn children into readers and be a great shared experience as well.
Picturebooks are for older children too
Picturebooks are not just for younger children, many are very sophisticated and engaging for older children. We have made sure our collection for children 7-11 includes several picturebooks suitable for children in KS2.