The Missouri Reader Vol. 42, Issue 2 | Page 12

by using the P.I.C.T.U.R.E acronym with students Effective teachers already know how to use picturebooks to increase comprehension (Hilden & Jones, 2013), introduce new concepts (Beaty, 2012), teach self-regulation (Cooper, 2007; Hansen & Zambo, 2007) and engage learners in new experiences (Travers & Travers, 2008). Further, picturebooks can make an impact on the development of the whole child- socially, personally, intellectually, culturally, and aesthetically (Phillips & Sturm, 2013). We contend using WPB simply makes these things accessible to all of your students. It is for these reasons, we encourage you to use wordless picturebooks in your classrooms. Here is a link to a few titles we hope you will try with your students this year!


Beaty, J. (2012). Skills for preschool teachers. (9thed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson

Buccieri, L. R., & Economy, P. (2012). Writing Children's Books for Dummies, 2nd Edition. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Cooper, P. M. (2007). Teaching young children self-regulation through children's books. Early Childhood Education Journal, 34(5), 315-322.

Doonan, J. (1993). Looking at pictures in picturebooks. Stroud, England: Thimble Press

Galda, L., Cullinan, B. E., & Sipe, L. R. (2010). Literature and the child. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning.

Gangwer, T. (2009). Visual impact, visual teaching: Using images to strengthen learning. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin

Gillenwater, C. (2014). Reading images: the phenomenon of intertextuality and how it may contribute to developing visual literacy with advanced placement English / language arts students. Journal of Ethnographic & Qualitative Research, 8(4), 251-263.

Gredler, M. (2001). Learning and instruction: Theory into practice. (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Merrill.

Johnson, D. (2012). The joy of children's literature. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Hansen, C.C., & Zambo, D. (2005). Piaget, meet Lilly: Understanding child development through picture book characters. Early Childhood Education Journal, 33(1), 39-45.

Hilden, K. & Jones, J. (2013). Effective interactive read-alouds build stronger comprehension. Reading Today, April/May, 17-19.

Justice, L., & Pence, K. (2005). Scaffolding with storybooks: A guide for enhancing young children's language and literacy achievement. Newark, Del.: International Reading Association

Lambert, M. D. (2015).Reading picture books with children: how to shake up storytime and get kids talking about what they see. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge.

Lohfink, G. (2012). Promoting self-questioning through picture book illustrations. Reading Teacher, 66(4), 295-299. doi:10.1002/TRTR.01124

Martin, W.P. (2015). Wonderfully wordless: The 500 most recommended graphic novels and picture books. Rowman & Littlefield: London.

Marciano, D. (2002). Chapter five: Teaching styles as evidenced in classrooms: A semiotic look at picturebooks in transmediation in the classroom: A semiotics-based media literacy framework, 63-70.

Martin, R., & Murtagh, E. M. (2015). Preliminary findings of Active Classrooms: An intervention to increase physical activity levels of primary school children during class time. Teaching and Teacher Education, 52113-127. doi:10.1016/j.tate.2015. 09.007

Marzano, R. J., Pickering, D., & Pollock, J. E. (2001).Classroom instruction that works: Research-based strategies for increasing student achievement. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Mikkelsen, N. (2000). Words and pictures: Lessons in children's literature and literacies. Boston: McGraw-Hill.

Olshanky, B. (2008). Power of Pictures. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Phillips, E., & Sturm, B. (2013). Do picturebooks about starting kindergarten portray the Kindergarten Experience in Developmentally Appropriate Ways? Early Childhood Education Journal, 41(6), 465-475.

Reading Rockets. (2013).

Salisbury, M., & Styles, M. (2012). Children's picturebooks: The art of visual storytelling. London: Laurence King Publishing

Serafini, F. (2014). Reading the visual: An introduction to teaching multimodal literacy. New York: Teachers College Press

Sipe, L. (2000). “Those gingerbread boys could be brothers”: How children respond to literature. Human Sciences Press, Inc. 31(2).

Travers, B. E., & Travers, J. F. (2008). Children’s literature: A developmental perspective. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons

Yu, X. (2009). Levels of meaning and children: An exploratory study of picturebooks' illustrations. Library and Information Science Research, 31, 240-246. doi:10.1016/j.lisr.2009.07.003

Drs. Julie Bryant and Tamara Samek are on faculty at Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, Missouri. Both focused their dissertation work on reviewing award winning literature to positively influence children. Their love of the arts and literature spills over into their teaching, presentations, and publications.


The connections between songs, poems, and learning to read are abundant. And they are FUN! Let’s jump in and explore a few of my favorites.

Learning to Read is Like Making Pancakes!

Learning to read is like making pancakes! First, you need to get all the ingredients. (Obviously, you can’t make pancakes if you do not have the ingredients). Then you take the ingredients out, mix them together, cook them up, and make delicious pancakes.

Learning to read is not that different. A child gathers their “reading” ingredients from all the meaningful reading, singing, and interactive talking opportunities they experience. The more the better. These “reading” ingredients include word knowledge, print familiarity, sentence usage, spoken fluency, expression, a love of books and reading, and so much more.

These wonderful language experiences begin at birth and evolve as our children grow from a baby to toddler, to preschooler, to an early elementary student. Once a child has their “reading” ingredients they can begin to apply them to reading. They can start to decode. They can derive meaning from words and sentences.

The joyful songs and nursery rhymes you share with your children are actually forming the building blocks of reading. Did you realize that as you sing a classic song such as “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” you are teaching your children descriptive words, syntax, imagery, size concepts, tone, expressiveness, fluency, and so much more?

Why Do Football Players Take Ballet?

Have you heard that many football players take ballet classes? Clearly, they do not intend to audition for "The Nutcracker." They are learning balance and fluid motions. The football players know that the same skills they learn in ballet class will be applied when they are on the football field. This just makes sense.

When a child engages in rhythmic nursery rhymes and expressive songs, they are learning fluency skills. These same skills transfer to reading. So, it just makes sense to fill our children’s daily routine with joyful language. Simple songs, nursery rhymes, and silly poems are ready-made to make this possible.

Books Must Be More Fun Than Electronics.

Books and reading must be more fun than electronics and tablets I’m not kidding. The world has changed around us. We need to wake up. Fifty years ago, books had very little competition for a child’s attention. It was often a book or nothing. All that has changed.

Today, children are bombarded with highly entertaining digital stimulation. This stuff is everywhere and powerful. Twenty-five years ago, as a new teacher, I was deeply concerned about the effects of television on reading. Now, as a writer and literacy advocate, I am terrified by the potential outcomes of increasing levels of screen time and decreasing levels of reading real books.

We can definitely make books more fun than electronics and tablets for beginning readers. The key is interactivity and engagement. Let’s infuse early literacy material with songs and poetry. Let’s sing our books. Let’s dance our books. Let’s engage in laughter and wordplay with our books. Let’s do this together. Joyful, interactive fun with parents, teachers, and friends, totally beats tablets, video games, and whatever other electronic stimulation comes next. Books must win. Books can win!

Engagement is the Magic Elixir of Learning

Here is where things get interesting and super groovy. The very same techniques that help make books more fun also enhance their learning power! In other words, in many circumstances, the more fun the more learning! How groovy is that?

The techniques I am primarily referring to are singing, movement, rhyme, rhythm, call and response, repetition, and predictable patterns. These techniques are fun and engage the reader! The more engaged the reader the more they are learning.

Every Child and Family Deserves the JOY of Reading!

Every week I receive emails from overjoyed parents and teachers who share with me that their child read for the first time! And, with one of my books! They tell me that the singing, repetition, or call and response drew their child in. Their happiness is indescribable. More than anything in the word I want every child and family to have this joy! But their children are too young to read! What is happening? It is actually simple to understand. Their children sing some parts of the book, recognize a few words, spell a few words, use the pictures, and remember many repetitive phrases. Let's call this “predictive” reading. They are also interactive. This helps learning to read be a deeply fulfilling interpersonal experience. Songs and nursery rhymes are wonderfully suited to encourage engagement.Below is a video of a super