Just Pictures To Build Better Language?

board book
Can less words lead to better language?

Like most toddlers his age, my son is really into books. He’s still in the ripping and tearing phase, so we’re sticking to board books for a while, but we have no shortage of books stashed in every corner of the house. He tends to want to read the same books over and over again, which has me asking him the same questions (“What does the monkey say?” or “Where is the balloon?”) over and over again too. Often times I wonder if he’s really answering the questions, or if he’s just memorized the correct answers for different parts and pages of the book. I know that I can recite every word from memory, and I’m guessing in some way or another, he can too.

A new study from the University of Waterloo is suggesting that reading wordless storybooks to toddlers might expose them to richer language:

“Too often, parents dismiss picture storybooks, especially when they are wordless, as not real reading or just for fun,” said the study’s author, Professor Daniela O’Neill. “But these findings show that reading picture storybooks with kids exposes them to the kind of talk that is really important for children to hear, especially as they transition to school.”

The researchers were especially interested in looking at the language mothers use when reading both wordless picture storybooks and picture vocabulary books to see if parents provided extra information to children like relating the events of the story to the child’s own experiences or asking their child to make predictions.

This makes perfect sense to me. With Cullen just now starting to build a vocabulary, we’re buying a lot of word and identification books. But many of them are just that – pictures with single words only. When we read stories, I tend to read the text of each page without going beyond the content and relating it specifically to Cullen. But if we had a book with just pictures, I can see that I’d be more inclined to create my own story to go with the picture, and ask questions based on Cullen’s life and interests. Are those swings? Did we swing at the park this morning? What else did we do? Did you go down the slide?

It’s an interesting study, and one I will likely hold onto during our story time tonight. After all, the best stories we can tell are usually our own.

Photo source: Amazon

Article Posted 3 years Ago

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