Thursday, September 10, 2009

Picture Books Are For Everyone

Has your child ever come home from school, frustrated because he or she feels lost in a class? We've probably all been there at one time or another. You feel for them but when you read the content with them or ask them questions, you just get a blank stare. Most often, the real reason behind that is that the student has no place to begin, no frame of reference to connect to. Educators call that foundational understanding, "background knowledge" or "schema". Without a place to start ("oh, I know this information already, so I can understand the new information better"), students may not be able to make sense of it.

Think of what would happen if you had never learned to read and you were suddenly given text. You wouldn't be able to understand, no matter how hard you tried. Or maybe you were thrown into the middle of an engineering project with no training in that area. It would be impossible to be successful or to learn more without a foundation. It's the same when it comes to understanding writing, historical events and times, science, math, music, art, most anything -- we all need a starting place.

To find that starting place, enter the world of today's picture books. They are more colorful than ever with exquisite art created by true talents such as Jerry Pinkney and Jan Brett. They sometimes contain complex ideas in a simple format (like Patricia McKissack's Goin' Someplace Special).

Want to find more treasures to help your children learn content-related facts and information? Visit my Amazon List to find more suggested titles on the subject of music (all the way from Native American and African roots to classical and jazz legends).

Because I recognize this is an issue and that parents want to help, I've created a new environmentally friendly resource to help you find even more fantastic subject-matter picture books (the new e-book is entitled Powerful Picture Books: 180 Ideas for Promoting Content Learning available at Inspiring Teachers. Powerful Picture Books will soon be featured at Cool Book of the Day where you can find a new cool book for you posted there every day.

One last resource: my friend, Vicki Cobb and a group of over 25 of her fellow nonfiction writers have started a new blog at I.N.K.. It highlights interesting Non-fiction for Kids and is a fantastic source for finding even more great non-fiction books for kids of all ages. Non-fiction is the heart of fact-finding and most reading beyond 3rd grade is content area or nonfiction reading. Whether you are looking for science books, books about famous people, language, painting or whatever, you're likely to find a sampling there.

With these tools, you have an easy way to support your child's learning. Find out what your student's subjects (outside of reading)will be this year. Tap into the world of picture books (fiction and non-fiction) to use as a fun, interactive way to help your child gain the basics. You'll help them gain a position where they can soar.

Even if you have a child who is doing well in school, search out a picture book or two that relates to a time in history or a subject that they may not study very much in school. Parents, after all, are first and forever teachers and the more your child knows, the better prepared he/she will be to succeed in school, on standardized tests and in life.

Happy Reading!


Melissa Taylor said...

I love this post -- you always provide such great resources and specifics for parents and teachers. Thanks, Cathy!

Cathy Puett Miller said...


I love it when folks find posts that have been out there for a bit but that they haven't read. Thanks for jumping in. Please share this blog with your friends AND send them to my Facebook cause page for an easy, grassroots way to prevent "summer reading slump":!/pages/The-Literacy-Ambassadors-K-6-Summer-Book-Challenge/128939577129958?ref=share