Thursday, September 11, 2008

Don’t Forget to Read the Pictures

Have you ever wondered why picture books contain pictures? They’re not just there to look pretty, or take up space, or make the story longer. In a good picture book, the pictures should add to the story. They should tell you things that the words alone don’t tell you. Remember the old adage, “A picture is worth a thousand words”?

When I visit schools, I read my books, and then I go through each book a second time with the children. I ask the children to tell me what the pictures are “saying” that the words didn’t say. This really enhances the meaning of the story. And, since children as extremely observant, they usually see things in the pictures that adults don’t notice.

Another exercise I do with children is to “read” an entire book with them without actually reading the words. If the pictures are an integral part of the story, the children will be able to make up the story as they go, getting all of their clues from the pictures. If the author and the illustrator have done their jobs, the children will be able to find meaning in the pictures. The picture story may not have the exact same meaning as the words intended, however this is still very useful in story-building.

Think of the other types of books that you read. It’s so much easier to put a recipe together when you can look at a picture and see what the author meant for the dish to look like. Also, think how much harder it is to put a bike or scooter together when the directions do not contain pictures of the finished product.

Pictures truly are worth a thousand words. What’s your opinion?

Please be sure to read the pictures in my books, The Knot Fairy and The Sock Fairy!

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