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Monday, 20 August 2012

Champions Read ~ And look at the Pictures

Have you read a book today? For yourself, or even better with someone else. If that someone else is a child, then Bravo. You're a Champion and like the motto for this year's CBCA Book Week, Champions Read.

However in the sometime chaotic race to excel these days, the simple things in life are often given scant attention in favour of achieving the BIG GOAL. I'm speaking of the shelves of picture books that may have been jettisoned now that your child or grandchild has moved out of the first grades of their education and are busy piling the seas of literacy.

Throw out a life buoy and reel them back in I say. The importance of picture books can not be ever underestimated, in my estimation and that's not just because I love to write them and read them still.

Some months ago I attended a master class by respected children' author illustrator Angela Sunde. Apart from some very illuminating insights on the making of picture books, Angela highlighted an equally salient notion that FICTION teaches EMPATHY. Without diminishing the extreme importance of non fiction books, she pointed out that a 5 year old is better able to understand the world outside their own better through the reading of picture books than from what they could learn from a non-fiction book.

The facts in both may be the same but the way it resonates with them is completely different. Fiction and namely that found in picture books, should therefore not be regarded as frivolous or secondary or beneath us in value. It should be prized and cherished.
 
How do Picture Books make a Difference?

  1. They are a beautiful expression of Art and Literature in one neat little package.
  2. Kids love Art. What young person do you know who doesn't like to scribble, sketch, colour, design or make things?
  3. The illustrations in a book help guide the reader through the story, they give clues sometimes not always shared in the text. They entertain and charm. They add depth and texture to the words.
  4. Chapter Books are not always necessarily more complex than picture books. PBs are often written on a higher literary level to challenge understanding and introduce new vocabulary.
  5. Language is enhanced in PBs. They allow children to hear and feel new sentence structures. Rhythm and Rhyme are explored. Words can sound like music when read out loud. A good PB, even a non rhyming one, can be poetry in motion.
  6. Picture books can deliver an huge array of themes, emotions, ideas and relationships for children in an entertaining, non didactic way. Relationships such as cause and consequence may be better understood and discussed when viewed time and time again in a PB.
  7. PB allow children the luxury of Repetition: of story, comedy, and meta language.
  8. PBs are sensory. Children can hear, see, feel, smell the story. They can develop a strong sense of story structure, time and place from PBs
  9. PBs are FUN. They are a perfect vehicle for allowing children of all ages to enjoy the pleasure of reading without the feeling of being burdened by the 'must do' mentality which is often associated (pityingly) with reading.
  10. PBs allow for the most intimate and interactive relationships imaginable between an adult and a child. The sharing of these reading experiences builds comprehension, trust and a sense of achievement which are key to ensuring children enjoy smooth sailing through their sea of literacy.
Enrich your child's literature with Fiction and Picture Books, this week, this Saturday during The Reading Hour and at any other available minute of the day.

Of course encouraging reluctant readers to read the jokes on your cereal packets is no bad thing either. Whatever they read will ultimately help them to Champion Literacy.

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