October 6, 2011

Picture Books Are Interactive

The magical thing about picture books I believe, is their interactive qualities. Some picture books encourage lots of discussion and frequent pauses to admire the pictures and others encourage less interaction. The rules if any, are decided by who's reading. When reading with children I always follow their lead. If they want to stop at a page and talk about the pictures then I do. If they have nothing to say then I keep on reading. 

Picture books are traditionally written to encourage reading and a love of literature but what's equally important is the emotional/social experience and the loving interaction between adults and children.

Here's a list of picture books that have wonderful interactive qualities. I apologise that the links aren't working at the moment.


Onomatopoeia is the formation of words by imitation of sounds, for example, 'Oink, Cluck, Moo.' Onomatopoeia is a popular literary concept in picture books because children are discovering what sounds that things make. This makes the whole reading aloud experience very exciting and a pleasure to hear. If you've ever read 'We're Going On A Bear Hunt' by Michael Rosen you'll know what I mean by the actions and sounds that children love to re-enact,  'Swish, Swish, Swish.'

*Can you Growl Like a Bear? by John Butler.
*The Firefighters by Sue Whiting.
*Bob by Tracey Campbell Pearson.
*Tiny Little Fly by Michael Rosen.
*Click, Clack, Moo:Cows that Type by Doreen Cronin.
*I Stink! by Kate McMullan.
*The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Laura E.Williams.

Repetitive/Rhythmic Phrases
*Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
*Bear and Chook by the Sea by Lisa Shannon.
*Wombat Stew by Marcia K Vaughan.

 Interaction Ideas:

These are only suggestions for interacting with children. It's also nice to just read and share the book and see where the conversation takes you both.

Ask open ended questions

'What's happening in this picture?' 
'What do you think might happen next?'
'What would you do if that was you?'
'Tell me about your favourite page.'
'What will happen next?'

Point things out

'Look what's happened here.'
'Oh no!' 
'Can you see where... he/she is hiding?'
'Did you notice the...'

Share the book without showing the pictures and pages

This may seem like an odd concept but it's great to allow children to imagine the story in their own minds without looking at the book. When I was working as a Childcare Teacher, I would some times make up stories while the children were settling for rest time. Many picture books I knew off by heart or I would retell the story in my own words. The children really enjoyed this and I know even now when I think of a particular picture book, I can visualise it in my mind and what the pictures look like. 

That's the amazing thing about the human mind. We can listen, think, create, imagine and stretch the possibilities.

Share the book by sharing the pictures only

This is obviously the opposite to the above idea. Hide the text with pieces of white paper and try and read the story visually. This is an interesting experience because every book will be different and the pictures may not always represent what's going on in the text.

Extend the story experience

Talk about the book other times during the day for example, driving in the car, during morning tea, or waiting for an appointment. See what you and your child can remember. Discuss a possible sequel. Refer to the story during play time. Say for example, your child is playing in the playground you could suggest, 'Let's pretend you're the big bad wolf character and I'll be the little pig.' Make characters out of playdough. Read a book outside, in a tent, or in the garden. 

Rewrite the story

There's nothing like folding pieces of A4 paper, stapling the edges, and starring at blank pages ready to begin a story. This can be an extension activity after reading a particular book or for no particular reason other then for fun! 

Interacting and sharing picture books with children is incredibly beneficial, but keep in mind, just like you wouldn't like someone hovering over your shoulder everyday making comments while you turn the pages of your favourite book, I highly recommend just reading the book for what it is-an experience to treasure.


DimbutNice said...

I loved this post Renee. I use a lot of these prompts and techniques when reading with the preppies on a weekly basis. I agree how a pb and it's style can stick with you forever. There are phrases I use regulary to this day with my child when prompted by a circumstance which reminds me of the story; eg the weather. Great stuff.

Sandy Fussell said...

I've also noticed that even year 3 and 4's, especially the boys, like lots of onomatopoeias in their action scenes. It helps with the role play when they act them out

Unknown said...

Thanks Dimity. After a few initial blogging issues, I've finally got this posted.

I was watching a children's T.V show the other morning how the hosts were reading the stories aloud and asking questions to the viewers at home. Even though I know picture books are interactive, it made me think about how I can use interactive elements whilst writing picture books.

Many of the popular picture books today have a definite rhythm and read aloud almost like a song is sung.

Unknown said...

Hi Sandy,
I agree! Especially dinosaurs, automobiles, tigers, superheroes, and the list goes on.

It's wonderful that onomatopoeia in picture books encourages word play, language expression, and a general love of reading and learning.

Thanks Sandy. I appreciate your comment :)

Karen Tyrrell said...

Congrats Renee,
fabulous ideas and techniques to springboard discussions.
This Blog would be very helpful to parents and teachers alike :)

Unknown said...

Thanks so much Karen. I'm really enjoying investigating more about picture books and sharing with writers, teachers, and parents.