Picture This! Using Picture Books in the Classroom
Introducing Picture Books to Infants and Toddlers
Picture books or board books are commonly used during reading time in both infant and toddler classrooms. It is important to note that this time you spend reading with children may or may not be one of the first experiences they have had with literature. You just may have the privilege of reading a child’s first book with them! Here are some helpful tips for introducing these books to younger children.
Show them the Front and Back Cover Before you begin, go over the front and back cover with them. You can read the title and book description as well as author’s and illustrator’s name if applicable. While the infant or toddler will not fully understand what each of these terms mean, introducing them to the concept of looking at the covers is what is really significant. This is a skill that they will carry with them the rest of their lives. Why not show them early?
Talk About the Pictures As you read, talk about what is happening in each of the illustrations. Older toddlers may be able to tell you what the characters are doing in the pictures as well. This dialog connects what is happening in the print to what they can see and understand on the page visually.
Encourage them to Turn the Pages Figuring out how to turn the pages and navigate a book is one of the first pre-literacy skills that can be introduced and practiced with infants. As adults, we often forget that this is a skill that children can be shown how to do. Model how to turn the pages for the child and then encourage them to try it with guidance or on their own!
Show Children the Words As you read, run your finger along the bottom of the words. Children will need to be actively shown the print on the page and that we read from left to right.
Make it Engaging While you are reading, try and use an expressive tone and different voices to keep the child interested in the story. Nothing ruins a story more than a monotone voice, no matter what age you are. You will also want to use gestures and different facial expressions as you read.
Make Books Part of the Daily Routine The more you incorporate books into your classroom, the better, and books don’t have to be just read during “reading time”. They can be read during meal times, transition times, nap time, or pickup/drop off time. Find what works for your classroom and make it a priority to read books with your students every day.
Don’t Force It Let the child decide how much time they are able to sit and listen. If they are not able to get all of the way through the book before becoming fussy, that is quite all right.
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