Many years ago my early elementary school aged daughter met author Daniel Pinkwater in a bookstore. After listening to him read and getting his autograph, she offered him a suggestion about a picture in one of his books. My husband and I were shocked at first, but then we congratulated ourselves — our daughter was so experienced and comfortable with picture books that she felt right at home giving a suggestion to a noted author.
Ensuring that picture books — lots of them — play a significant role in a child’s life is a required task for digital world parents, because all children in the connected need the skills to evaluate the images — especially the digital pictures — that saturate their lives. The Google Answers site points out that an average American is exposed to huge numbers of commercial messages each day (note the wide range of estimates at this site). Unfortunately children probably encounter these messages as well, so they need sound media literacy skills that help them interpret what they see. Picture books help.
“There’s more to these books than meets the eye,” writes Appalachian State University Professor David Considine in a document, MEDIA MATTERS: Here’s How One College Professor Puts the ‘Me’ in Media. Dr. Considine describes how he wants to demonstrate that students can “…develop critical-viewing skills by using something they already work with – picture books…” The process of reading picture books contributes mightily to the development of sound media literacy skills, building strong foundations that help children become astute image consumers.
Several recent articles have addressed picture books and young readers.