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The Little Known Benefits of Picture Books!

The Little Known Benefits of Picture Books!

So we all know that reading is important to our children’s language and mental development, but what about reading wordless picture books. Wait – What?! That’s right. I can almost hear the collective gasp of language teachers around the world. Most of us are used to reading books with at least some text in it because we have been told that that’s the best way for children to acquire language and vocabulary. This article attempts to shed light on the little known but powerful benefits that wordless picture book can bring to your child’s literacy development.

Benefit No. 1 – Visual Literacy Skills

Wordless picture book trains children to comprehend the story from multiple perspectives. When I use these books in my class, I’m pleasantly surprised by the stories that kids come up with based on the visual clues that most adults would overlook. Even within the confines of the illustrations, readers can see different details that may take them in many directions. The beauty of wordless picture books is that there is no right and wrong way to tell a story and is effective for non-readers to emerging readers on through to those who are excellent readers.

Benefit No. 2 – Improve vocabulary

How can the lack of text possibly aid in vocabulary development in anyway? It’s precisely for that reason that the perfect opportunity presents itself for readers to utilize the vocabulary acquired from past readings to put together a story.

Benefit No. 3 – Learn Story Structure and Sequencing

With the right guidance, wordless picture books can be a great way for children to begin understanding the building blocks of a story – beginning, middle, and end. By stringing the elements on each adjacent page to form a coherent storyline, they are in fact learning how to sequence their stories. You can imagine how that will come in handy when tackling essay writing later in life.

Benefit No. 4 – Develop Narrative / Storytelling Skills

Unlike adults who have had their senses dulled over the years through years of obeying rules and regulations, children are able to let their imagination run free and wild limited only by real world experience. Children are natural storytellers. Evident by how they are able to pull a story out of mid air just to get out of trouble. Wordless picture books allow children to hone their narrative skills towards a more productive goal.

Benefit No. 5 – Encourages Creative Thinking

The most obvious benefit, and probably the most important one, is that wordless picture books promote creativity and imagination to a level that are not found in linear storybooks. By removing the constraints of a set story, we are allowing readers to express themselves and experiment with new ideas. This also has an added benefit for engaging reluctant readers who are intimidated by text.

I came across an interesting article as I was researching on this topic. It details one teacher’s experimentation with wordless picture book in class with extraordinary results. If you’re too busy to read the full story, here’s an excerpt of their findings: “At first, I thought these books were too abstract for our preschool children. The illustrations are busy, and dream-like.” The children were curious about the unusual illustrations. They inspired open-ended questions from both teachers and children. “What if frogs could fly?” “I wonder what it’s like to meet a dragon?” Because the story was not defined by words, but by images, the children expressed ideas on what they thought the story was about. “I think this boy is having a scary dream!” or “The frogs only fly on Tuesdays. On other days, pigs fly.”

In my next article, I will shed light on why some students never seem to learn anything despite being such voracious readers.

Written by Eugene Tay, founder of Brain & Butter and Monsters Under the Bed.

When Eugene was a young boy, he wanted to be an astronaut. When that didn't take off, he decided that he was going to be like Indiana Jones and explore the world as an archaeologist. Eventually, he figured out how he can do both. That's when he became a writer.

Co-Written by Grace Chai, mother of a newborn baby boy. 

Grace is a new mom and currently undergoing intensive On-The-Job Training for her new role. Between pumping milk, changing diapers and taking selfies with her baby, Grace manages stress by writing about her motherhood experience for ParentTown.

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