From the bright and colourful illustrations to the enchanting stories, picture books can ignite a child’s creativity and introduce them to a world of possibilities. But did you know that picture books can also be beneficial for older children, parents and adults of any age?
In this post, we’ll explore why reading picture books far beyond the age of 2 or 6 can be beneficial for everyone. We’ll look at how picture books can help develop imagination, foster a love of reading and language in little ones as well as older children, and even provide parents and educators with valuable teaching tools.
They're for big kids too!
Most people think that picture books are for pre-school and younger children only. For many of my (grown-up) picture book loving friends, this idea couldn’t be further from the truth!
Picture books offer something unique and special that other formats don’t. They aren’t just stories; they’re doorways into new worlds, full of exploration and discovery through simple text and imaginative illustrations.
Each one individual.
Each one with its own personality and unique point of view.
Each a beautifully crafted piece of art.
Often taking years to refine, picture books are created through mindful collaborations between the author, the book designer, the illustrator, and the publisher. They offer a wonderful introduction to language and provide an opportunity to nurture a genuine life-long love for literature.
As an Author and picture book creator myself, I now appreciate the skill and talent involved in creating these treasures. From the concept and thoughtful crafting of each word to the beautiful visual interpretations of the narrative in the illustrations. I must admit, the children's section of most bookshops and libraries is, indeed, my weak spot. My collection is vast and just keeps growing... Sssh, don't tell anyone.
Picture books help with cognitive development and literacy skills
One of the most important benefits of picture books is their ability to help with cognitive development. Studies have shown that picture books are important in nurturing problem solving and critical thinking skills.
They also aid in the development of language and literacy skills by introducing new words and concepts to new readers and can convey complex ideas in a way that’s easier to digest and that makes learning fun.
Picture books are also a great way to introduce storytelling and character development techniques into creative writing lessons. Reading and analysing the simplicity of picture book formats creates an understanding of how stories are crafted. Why authors use rhyme, repetition, or prose and how and why illustrations are used to support the text.
They improve reading skills
Picture books are a great way to improve reading skills. Bright, colourful illustrations with a strong visual narrative, make a story more engaging and provides visual cues which can help a reader better understand what they are reading.
Whether it’s understanding the meaning of words, connecting ideas, or building an interest in reading, picture books are an invaluable tool for developing or improving reading skills.
They encourage a love of reading
Reluctant readers? Picture books are one of the best tools parents and educators can use to encourage a love of reading at any age.
Choose books that spark interest and imagination. If your reader is into sports, seek out books that have a sports theme. Avid gardener? Scientist? Rock star or Chef? – with so many wonderfully themed options, you’re bound to find something they will enjoy.
And don’t forget comics and graphic novels! Whilst these may not be traditional picture book formats, their use of simple text and strong visuals will keep them engaged and excited about reading – especially if the story comes as part of a series.
Find books that appeal to their other interests and you’re teaching them that reading can be fun rather than a chore. Find books that are simple in language and easy to read and you’re building their reading confidence – making them much more open to reading regularly.
They teach empathy
Picture books provide a great opportunity to discuss emotions and to practice empathy. Through conversation, we can begin to understand how (and why) other people feel the way they do.
Themes such as courage, perseverance, resilience and kindness are often included in picture books with a strong message or theme, which can help develop valuable social skills. Often too, these subtle messages and moral lessons can encourage critical thinking and empathy toward others.
Characters with different backgrounds and points of view, are a great way to nurture the respect for other's feelings, even if we they don’t always agree. They can offer readers a chance to practice looking at the world from another perspective and introduces them to the diversity, cultures and various beliefs that shape our world.
They introduce new concepts
Children’s picture books are often written in simple, straightforward language that is easy to understand.
Through illustrations, picture books can explain difficult concepts in an imaginative way or introduce abstract concepts like emotions, math, science, and history. By presenting these topics in a visually appealing and engaging way, readers are more likely to retain the information and develop a stronger understanding of it.
They’re a bonding experience
Not only does reading picture books create an enjoyable experience, but it also helps to strengthen your bond and can be a wonderful way to spend quality time together.
A dedicate reading hour as part of your daily activity or night-time routine can also provide an opportunity to engage in creative and imaginative play. While reading, they can use their imagination to create visuals of the story or add details that weren’t mentioned in the book. This type of play is great for nurturing creative expression.
Whether you're taking a road trip, waiting in line at the doctor's office, or just having a quiet moment at home, picture books are the perfect, compact solution for keeping your reader entertained. Small, light weight and easy to carry, they don't need batteries or an internet connection to work, which means they can enjoy their favourite stories even when there’s no access to technology.
So, no matter how old you are, next time you’re looking to get lost in a good book, don’t forget the power of a beautiful picture book!
Create new memories with modern stories or drift back to your own childhood memories by re-discovering the classics. Who knows, you may just find that you’re never too old to enjoy a picture book. I know I'll never be...
Mary Anastasiou A self confessed chocoholic, pluviophile and lover of all things kid lit, Mary writes books that she hopes will engage, inspire and empower little people on their journey to becoming big people.
Grab copies of Mary's books today! CLICK HERE.