A Reading Diet that Includes Picture Books

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Recently, the New York Times article published “Picture Books No Longer a Staple for Children.”  It turns out that their reporter inaccurately quoted a source and frankly, I wasn’t surprised – but that isn’t why I’m writing this post.  Here’s what I do wonder . . .

Do we have a cultural paradigm that children shouldn’t be reading picture books because “good readers read chapter books”?
*(Despite the fact that most picture books are written at a high reading level with challenging vocabulary?)

How do we get children to pick picture books as well as chapter books?

Here’s what works with my third grader (eight-year old) – and I wonder if it can apply your kids, too. Does 1 + 2 = 3?

1. I provide the picture books.

At the library, Ani goes straight for the chapter book section. She won’t pick out picture books. So, . . . I do. Not only do I check out picture books, as you know, I get sent a ton of books to review for Colorado Parent magazine. Needless to say, we always have lots of picture books in our house.

2. I leave the picture books lying around.

I’m not a big neat freak – and we often have piles of books lying around not put in shelves. I watch as my daughter methodically reads through all the picture book piles.  Sometimes I even ask her for her “help” in reviewing the books – and to read certain stacks. Sometimes, she surprises me with what she likes — books I think are kind of boring! She’s a huge non-fiction fan and right now is loving an A to Z of the Revolutionary War picture book.

3. Then daughter reads picture books. 

Ani loves reading picture books, and sometimes wants me to read aloud the books to her – which I do!

What do you notice with your kids or students?

Do you think my method would work for your kids?

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  1. There are SO many beautiful picture books out there, I would be so sad if I had to get rid of them! I still enjoy them, why not my children, too? I say there is place for both in their lives! The importance of reading a chapter book is so real, but I believe that reading to relax before going to sleep is very important and at that time, children should be able to read what they want. Sometimes, they are tired enough that a chapter book is too much. I think that looking at beautiful pictures or a special book that they picked out at the library is still very educational. Great art, the independent feeling of picking their own book and most importantly, seeing reading as something that is FUN! Thanks for this post, I really enjoyed it!


  2. My kids are young and just beginning to get into chapter books, so picture books are definitely our staple. I agree that they are so valuable for older kids! When I taught 5th and 6th graders, I used them every day. We used the 6 Traits resources, so picture books played an important role in the writing instruction. Picture books are perfect for modeling traits that good writers use, since providing excellent examples is so important in writing instruction. Like Jennifer said above, I also love to use them for teaching about behavior or character education. -And or course the artwork is unbeatable!
    Thanks for posting about this. I can’t believe someone would even question the value of picture books! Crazy!