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Picture books are my all-time favorite genre.  Each week, I fill my book bag and amble out of our local library; looking like Quasimodo, but feeling like Santa Claus. My son is almost 9, and we still cuddle up each night and lose ourselves in the pages of a new or favorite picture book.  Our nightly ritual is what inspired me to write my own picture book, The Legend of Dust Bunnies, a Fairy’s Tale.  As Picture Book Month approaches (November), I’ll dedicate more of my posts to reading strategies and shared reading activities.  I tailored the following activity to suit my book, but it can be modified to fit almost any children’s picture book.

PICTURE WALK

What is a picture walk?

A picture walk is a shared activity between an adult reader and child or group of children before reading an unfamiliar story.  During a picture walk, the reader shows the book’s cover and browses through the pages in order. The reader encourages the children to talk about what they see and what may be happening in an illustration.   Children draw upon background experiences as they interpret the illustrations.

Why take a picture walk?

Walking through the storybook pictures with an adult prepares a child for reading the story and teaches the use of visual cues as a reading strategy.  It allows the child to get a sense of where and when the story happens, the characters in the story, and what might happen in the story.  Picture walks spark interest in the story and set the purpose for the child to read and learn more about the story. Picture walks can help a child connect the visual images in the story to their own experiences and activate prior knowledge.  They can give children a tool to organize the information in the story, increasing the child’s comprehension of the story. The child is able to make predictions about what might happen in the story and how the story might end.

How to take a picture walk?

Explain that before you read the story, you and the child will look at the pictures together to see if you can guess what the book is about. Then you will read the book together to see if your guesses match the story.

Start by looking at the cover of the book. Ask the child what he/she sees on the cover. Ask what he/she thinks the story might be about. Travel through the pages of the book. Look carefully at the details in each picture, without reading the words.

Ask the child who, what, where, when, why and how questions about the pictures: Who is the main character? What are the fairies doing? Where do you think the fairies are going? When does the story take place? Why do you think the boy is sitting by himself? How are the lightning bugs helping the fairies? What do you think will happen next?  The reader can also focus on how the artist’s use of light, color, and perspective impacts the story: Why do you think the artist used a close-up image of the fairy’s face? Did you notice the different patterns on the wings of the fairies? Encourage the child to make personal connections: Does he remind you of any storybook character you’ve seen? Have you ever been left out of the group?

Acknowledge the child’s input: That’s possible. I can’t wait to see if you are right! Once you have previewed all of the pictures, read the story with the child. Stop when appropriate to discuss whether the child’s predictions matched the story.  Discuss why/not the prediction was accurate using information from both the pictures and the text.  After the child is familiar with the picture walk concept, invite him/her to take the lead and guide you through a picture walk.

Find more literacy activities at https://www.nationalserviceresources.gov/literacy-training-picture-walk#.VDQLshZHgbg

Find more literacy activities at https://www.nationalserviceresources.gov/literacy-training-picture-walk#.VDQLshZHgbg

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