I have a confession to make: I love picture books. The picture book section is typically the first section I peruse in a bookstore, and I get more excited than an adult probably should when I find a really great new find. As an early childhood educator, I know how powerful a picture book can be. A great picture book is not only fun and beautiful, but one of the best teaching tools out there. Picture books stimulate the imagination, build vocabulary, and form a foundation for reading. The rhyming and repetitive patterns found in many picture books also support language development and literacy.
During my read-alouds with kids, like our storytimes at LEAP, I encourage participation. The more active the learning, the more the learning actually “sticks” for a child. Reading picture books aloud to young audiences is similar to interpreting art with little ones. Beautiful illustrations can hook and captivate even the most reluctant reader and the most fidgety child. I pause and encourage them to really look at the pictures. I ask what they see, what is going on in the pictures, what do they think will happen next? When children interpret the illustrations, they are “reading” the pictures, developing literacy skills, and imagining themselves and people (or animals) they know inside the story, developing empathy.
We read a combination of fiction and non-fiction books at LEAP to reinforce the session’s theme. While fiction works are usually more popular choices for early childhood storytimes, we don’t shy away from non-fiction. A good age-appropriate non-fiction book can capitalize on children’s natural curiosity and encourage them to seek out additional information and answers to questions. They can introduce new concepts and correct common misconceptions.
On the new Children's Books tab, we've listed some of our favorite nature play and animal books that we've either read aloud together at storytime, will read at storytime later this session, have in our book station at LEAP, or are books that we just think you should know about!
What are some of your family’s read aloud favorites?