Research states that reading books aloud to children stimulates their imagination and expands their understanding of the word. It helps them develop language and listening skills and prepares them to understand the written word. But what to do if your child is not interested and it becomes a nightly struggle rather than a special nighttime ritual? Try Picture Walks!
As a K-2 principal I sometimes gave pep talks to parents in ways to engage their child in reading. A simple and easy way to help your child read is to do a “Picture Walk” BEFORE reading an unfamiliar story. “Picture Walks” help children to learn how to preview and make predictions about a book. A “Picture Walk” can last one day or multiple days depending on your child’s interest.
Before you read with your child
- Choose a book and read it to yourself first.
- While reading, look closely at the illustrations (pictures), the text (words) and the structure of the book (lots of illustrations, words on the bottom/top, rhyming, repetition of words)
- Think about what YOUR child will like about the book. (illustrations, characters, ending)
While reading with your child
- Model how to read
- Look closely at the illustrations with your child and have them talk about what they see. There is no right or wrong answer, just talk about the illustrations.
- Point out text features that will help them comprehend the story. (Subtitles, question marks, exclamation points)
- Use some of the new words in the story when pointing to the illustrations.
- Looking at the illustrations, ask general questions about the story. (Ex: where do you think the story is taking place, who might the story be about?)
- Respond to their replies vaguely; rather that they are correct or incorrect. (Use phrases like “I wonder, it looks like, oh maybe, let’s read further)
After reading the book
Review some of the ideas and predictions that you talked about while looking back at the illustrations. This reinforces their thinking and fosters enthusiasm.