When my children were small, we made frequent trips to the local library and read stacks of picture books, exploring the wide variety of reading experiences available to us. Each of my children had a special book that became his or her favorite, and a hardbound copy eventually became a birthday or holiday present for each.
For my artistic son, who grew up to become a musician, the beautiful illustrations in Grandfather Twilight, written and illustrated by Barbara Berger, engaged and entranced. With few words and glowing paintings, the book creates a world in which a kindly old gentleman brings evening colors to the sky, and each night sets in place the moon, taken from an endless strand of luminous pearls he keeps in a chest.
My daughter fell in love with the story of a young Japanese carpenter named Yoshi, as much for the fan-shaped die cut pages and colorful illustrations as for the story of a boy who looks outside himself for sources of inspiration, until he discovers that imagination springs from within. The Magic Fan was written and illustrated by Keith Baker.
My youngest had a love/hate relationship with Gritch the Witch, and the scary voice I used when I read her lines, in a hilarious story of a group of pigs who outsmart a witch with a hankering for some Piggie Pie. Howard Fine’s detailed illustrations perfectly complement this whimsical tale that ends with a surprise. The book was the first of many for author Margie Palatini, and an unending delight for my son.
Before a child can even read, a great book can enchant her senses through intriguing, beautiful or amusing illustrations. A book can delight in an auditory way too, as Dr. Seuss has proven.
Children love to hear stories that rhyme, and devices such as alliteration (using words that begin with the same letter), or onomatopoeia (using words that sound like themselves – think “splash” or “rip”), add spice and life to an already engaging story. Humor and surprise are other ways for children to engage with reading, beginning a life-long love for books.
Blogger Carole Barnhart, MS, shares her expertise as a parent and a writer with particular interest in learning and attention issues. If you have questions, please contact Director of Learning Programs Carmen Mendoza at .
Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net