My husband and I have four children, aged 6 through 11, and we love books! The library is a prime destination for our household and I have bookcases at home full of a range of genres and reading levels. Many of these books are picture books as this was basically all we read when I had four children under five. Picture books are often undervalued as teaching tools for our children, dismissed as babyish and pointless, not helpful literature to read to your children in order to teach them. This has some validity. Many picture books are just silly, some are rude or inappropriate, some purely comic entertainment, and most don’t have much of a moral in them. However, if you are willing to dig a little deeper into the picture book world there are some real gems that have a lot to teach our children in a way that they can understand.
Why picture books? If you have ever tried to read a chapter book with no pictures to a child under the age of 5 you will understand why picture books have a place in our house. Young children engage with the world through what they can see, touch, hear and taste while their speaking skills continue to develop. Once they have learnt that books don’t taste all that good (sometimes a long process!) children are generally happy to hold them, turn the pages, and enjoy the beautiful sights they present. Our children loved to be read to, turning pages, pointing out what they recognised in the pictures, mimicking the rhymes from poetical books. If you are enthusiastic about teaching your children to love reading, then you will need to start with picture books.
Once children are old enough to appreciate being read to with the help of pictures, then they can be introduced to more difficult concepts through the medium of story. We have a wonderful picture book at home called The Little Heart by Susanne Margreiter-McQuie, which we used to introduce our children to the concept of salvation, God’s love for sinners, and Christ’s sacrifice for us. Through simple pictures and words this book lays out our fallen state, Christ’s