Saturday, June 9, 2012

Don't Forget the Story in the Ilustrations

Long before I had a child of my own, I was always drawn to the children's section of the book store - I loved spending time just soaking up the beautiful and artistic illustrations!  Whenever I had the opportunity to buy a gift for a child in my life, it was always a book or two (or three).  This behavior was usually attributed to the fact that I was a teacher, but in reality I was just thrilled that I could finally purchase some of the gorgeous books I longed to own myself.

Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems
The illustrations in this book add so much to the story!  You get to see sweet Trixie running an errand with her dad and all of the action of the neighborhood in the background.  

When Beansprout was first born, we started buying children's book on every shopping trip.  I also began to read everything I could get my hands on that had to do with parenting.  The Mem Fox book, Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever, is one that I often think back on when I'm reading to him still.  I highly recommend picking it up, as it's a quick, easy read and it helps you realize how much you are already doing to build your child's reading skills, while giving you great ideas for expanding your approach.  I found an excerpt the other day that reminded me to help Beansprout appreciate and love books for their illustrations as much as I do!
"It's important to point out [here] the significance of the illustrations in books for young children.  We mustn't skip over them.  The pictures tell a thousand words and help unlock the action of the story.  In some read-aloud sessions, we're not even reading at all -- we're talking back and forth about the illustrations and what's in them.  The younger the child, the more we'll be chatting together about the pictures and it will be the child more often than not who starts the discussion."
After reading this again, I realized that part of what I love about word-less picture books is just this - the fact that the child can initiate the discussion and that we can interact more with each other and with the book while reading.  I've gotten too caught up in the words in the other story books and haven't spent a lot of time talking to Beansprout about the illustrations when we're reading together, so this is a great reminder for me!

How do you approach reading with your children?  What are some books you recommend for illustrations?  I'd love to hear your ideas!

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