Updated: Jul 22, 2022
Many parents think that picture books are only for very young children. But picture books have much to offer children of all ages.
Here are some of the benefits:
1. The illustrations can be stunning and can promote a better appreciation of visual messages. The pictures aid story comprehension as well as adding more detail to the story text. The reader has to use critical thinking skills to interpret the illustrations and how they add to the story.
2. Picture books promote reading for pleasure. We all love reading simpler texts sometimes. Children should be encouraged to read a wide variety of texts – menus, recipes, magazines, comics, instruction manuals, atlases, catalogues – not just story books.
3. Although simple in format, picture books often use vocabulary at a higher reading level. They are useful for conveying complex concepts in a simpler form. This aids better understanding and promotes discussion. A picture book can be the perfect way to introduce a more complex subject – such as coping with anxiety, bereavement or divorce, for example.
4. The simpler text and illustrations help to stimulate the reader’s imagination – they have to fill in more of the story than in a chapter book.
5. Older readers can interpret the same picture book differently than a younger child. So revisiting picture books can be a whole new experience. Many picture books have two levels of interpretation – things that older children and adults see can be totally lost on a younger child. This is especially true with some authors who write humorous books and deliberately create text that can have two meanings – it’s only an older child who will get the joke!
6. Illustrations can often convey messages and feelings that the text is unable to provide.
“Sharing picture books with children lead to amazing conversations. In the best picture books there is a gap between the pictures and the words, a gap that is filled by the child’s imagination.”
— Anthony Browne