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The Role of Picture Books In Your Child's Development

Sonal Panse,

Reading a lavishly illustrated picture book is an enchanting way of attracting and introducing a young reader to the world of literature. In picture books, the illustrations are perhaps even more important than the text; the pictures can and often do convey more information than what the text states. This is of particular relevance for beginner readers.

Since we develop our visual and sensory abilities before our vocal ones, recognizable pictures can aid a child in making a connection between the picture and the spoken word, and later with the picture, the spoken word, and the written word. This is why it is advisable for parents to read aloud to their children as much as possible.

Read a Picture Book Out Aloud

Reading together can not only strengthen the parent-child bond and foster easier communication between them – as they discuss the text they have read and what they make of it and how it makes them think or feel - it also helps with speech development, letter recognition, and vocabulary development.

Some early picture books have a rhyming text and this is useful in developing and enhancing memory. Rhymes, as most of us know, are easier to remember. In an aside, this is why, before books became so widely available, when stories were passed on from word-to-mouth, texts were set in rhythmical patterns for easier memorization.

Reading Picture Books Can Expand The Reader's Scope

Once children become familiar with the written word, the illustrations in picture books can help them understand the meaning of words they may not have encountered before. They are also able to grasp new concepts and ideas, and this is useful in fostering imagination and in giving children a wider perspective of their surroundings and the larger world than they might otherwise get.

The information received may be of nature and the environment, of places, of different types of people and what they do and how they behave, of different cultures and what makes them different, of social and scientific developments, of food and everyday objects, and so on. Really, there is no dearth of picture books on a great number of topics. The more varied and diverse picture books that can be made available, the better it will be for the development of the child's general outlook.

A wider knowledge base can make for children that will have the ability to pick up new ideas and to be more open to new experiences and situations; a child might, for instance, be more amenable to trying out a new vegetable or fruit that he or she have read about, or, they may be more at ease in a new situation or place that they have previously encountered in a book. In addition, children may be able to relate what they have read to past or current experiences from their own lives as well as those of others, and thereby they may become capable of seeing other viewpoints and developing more empathy for other people.

Pictures books can also be useful in developing a balanced idea of gender roles. There is some argument as to whether gender roles are inherent to us or are imposed on us by society. It is, of course, more likely a mix of both, but, in any case, picture books can perhaps help children avoid being molded into unhealthy stereotypes and make them more aware of unjust treatment.

Picture Books Help Develop Story Sense

Picture books are also useful in helping children understand how a story structure works – it begins at the beginning, one could say, and has a middle and then proceeds to the end; young children who have been read to or have been told a lot of stories can be found to be following this pattern when they retell stories or make up new ones.

The human brain is strongly geared towards story-telling; stories, whether informative or entertaining, are important for establishing and building up communication abilities. In addition, stories have the benefit of aiding in social development as children learn to relate the complex and/or emotional issues, things, people, and animals they read about to what they themselves encounter in real life and, from this, the children can glean how to appropriately cope with these.

So, in short, a picture book, whether it is realistic or creative or anthropomorphic, can be useful in aiding children in developing both a wider vocabulary and a wider perspective.

You can take a look at our picture books here -