The Importance of Picture Books

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A brunette mother and young girl are sitting on a bed and reading a blue picture book together.
A brunette mother and young girl are sitting on a bed and reading a blue picture book together.

Picture books are important. Snuggling up with your child reading a favorite picture book is one of the treasured joys of parenthood. Reading together turns ordinary moments into a magical and memorable time for your little one too. It is a special opportunity together, an invitation to connect. I can recall with extreme fondness the bedtime routine, or children’s hour, when our kids were young. A beloved part of this evening ritual included bedtime stories. I can still name many favorite picture book titles a son or daughter would ask for as they were read over and over again.

Story time is not only cozy and comforting, reading aloud is the best thing parents can do to encourage a love of books and reading. It is a crucial tool for developing a child’s literacy and language skills in their early years. These bright, colorfully illustrated books are a delight to read and introduce reading as fun. Read to your child every day even if only for a few minutes. Invite your child to “read” a familiar book to you, one that he has memorized after the many times he’s asked you to read it to him.

A picture book’s illustrations naturally appeal to young children enabling them to participate in the story thus, keeping them engaged. As you read, stop and ask questions about the illustrations or what your child thinks will happen next. Picture books are important because their repetitive nature offers an opportunity to develop inferences or prediction skills before turning the page. Images add depth to the story which aids in understanding, developing the ability to analyze visually. 

Images help young and developing readers to understand a story and ignite the imagination. The simple story lines and illustrations offer space for interpretation and reflection. Young children can pick up a picture book, “read” and study it on their own. Picture books are important as the example of characters in a book can inspire young children to try new things and explore their interests. For instance, a little bear in the story decided to roll like a log down a grassy hill. A child watched the character’s sequence of learning to roll down a hill. Illustrations help with story sequencing skills. The next thing you know she is asking to go to the park to try out the same.

The illustrations in picture books can contain deeper meaning than you might see at first glance. Children are often very interested in the details they notice. Picture books are important as they can teach about social clues and cultural differences. Encourage discussion and ask open-ended questions. Choose to read from a variety of picture books including poetry, nursery rhymes, fairy tales and non-fiction subjects following your child’s interests. Join the local library to broaden your family’s access to picture books of all kinds.

The stories in picture books can introduce new information in an accessible format for young children. The short captions on each page are manageable. Exploring new topics through images and brief text makes new information easier to understand. Language skills are also introduced. Many picture books use rhyme to capture children’s attention. Rhyme teaches sound patterns in language, increasing phonological awareness. Picture books are also a wonderful source for vocabulary as new words are reinforced with images. The lyrical and rhythmic sense increases the number of words they add to their vocabulary.

I am often asked why the lesson plans in the Golden Days at Home Preschool Curriculum are based on children’s picture books. I have a difficult time keeping my answer short as the magic and importance of picture books for young children is endless. The rich story lines and illustrations in each of the mindfully chosen picture books are an exciting source of inspiration for each lesson plan’s subject lessons ranging from geography through to music & rhyme. Reading aloud together with your child then spending deliberate time bringing the picture book to life through teaching, creating, learning, singing is a shared experience to influence a lifetime.

a woman with a black and white checkered shirt is reading a picture book infant of a bookcase full of preschooler toys and books.

Reading picture books creates an enjoyable experience children will remember forever. Savor special picture book story time together while your children are young with all of the benefits it bestows. As a reading family, continue to read aloud to your children once they have learned to read for themselves. This regular practice creates a positive association with reading, encouraging them to continue to pick up books and read for pleasure from childhood on through their lives.

Written by Janet Nicole Meyer for Golden Days at Home

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*Golden Days at Home receives no compensation for sales.

a collection of heirloom quality preschooler toys, wooden and stuffed animals
Janet Nicole Meyer

Janet Nicole Meyer

The founder and author of Golden Days at Home preschool curriculum savors all opportunities to play and travel with her now grown children. She and her husband hike, bike and enjoy living on a stream in Boulder, Colorado with their elderly English Mastiff, Roxy.

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