Last week, I listed lots of reasons why picture books are outstanding tools for boosting literacy. Today, I offer a few suggestions as to how to use picture books to enhance your child’s (and your own) enjoyment.
When making connections, readers tie what they read to personal experiences or to other reading, in order to increase their understanding of themselves, other books, and life itself. This is something enthusiastic and experienced readers do automatically. They read something and think, “Oh, this makes me think of when I …”
For example, in Ezra Jack Keats A Whistle for Willie (my favorite Keats book), Peter tries and tries to whistle. Any child can relate to such repeated attempts to master a skill.
When reading a book together, try modeling this by saying something like, “When I read that part, it made me think of when I …” Or, “This makes me think of that book we read…”
As you read, you can comment and/or pose questions about the story.
About the text
I wonder what [a character] will do next?
Where do you think [a character] is going?
Who did that?
Why did [a character] do that?
Not so simple:
I wonder why [a character] seems so sad?
What message is the author trying to give?
What is your opinion about this?
Do you like this character? Why?
Do you like the ending? How would you change it?
Why might this story be scary (funny, confusing…) to some kids? To some adults?
About the illustrations
What season is this? How can you tell?
How many ___ are there in this picture?
What picture might be on the next page?
Where is the___?
After reading: What is your favorite illustration? Why?
Not so simple:
I wonder why the illustrator used such dark (bright, pale…) colors?
What do you think is the most important thing in this illustration? What makes it important?
How can you tell that car (girl, dog…) is going fast (feeling sad, is sleeping…)?
CAUTION: We adults tend to overdo the questions. The last thing we want is to make reading together at home seem like a chore. Be aware of your child’s reactions to your questions. Remember, our goal is to show that reading is fun.
Encourage your child to ask his own questions. Try asking your child to think of teacher-type questions for you. Pretending to be the teacher can be great fun and encourages a different type of thinking.
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What does your family like to do when you are reading picture books together? Write them in the Comments box!