Giving picture books is good idea

GTT — Great books with no or few words and beautiful illustrations are fantastic for building vocabulary, love of books, writing, and drawing skills. This is not too much praise especially if they are Caldecott Award winners for illustrations.

The 2017 Caldecott Medal winner is “Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat” by Javaka Steptoe. In this inspirational book a little boy sees art everywhere in New York City. It introduces Basquiat’s message that art “doesn’t always have to be perfect, neat, clean, or inside the lines” to be beautiful. The message to children is love your art.

To enjoy “Radiant” and many others, families can gather a few stuffed animals to read along in a cozy spot. Once everyone is comfortable, you can start by enthusiastically pointing to an illustration. “Look at that! What do you see?” Soak up the beauty and messages of a few illustrations. Then read the sparse words or make up your own story while focusing on the illustrations. Children will learn to add to the story in their own words.

Ask questions that begin with “What, who, where, when, why do you think, or how?” How do the characters feel-happy, sad, angry, upset, lonely, or warm and cuddly inside? What is the character thinking about? After you have exhausted those questions ask, “What do you think will happen next?” Predicting is an important reading skill. In these books the illustrations have so much to say.

Whatever you do, take it slow. We often hurry children. Instead, give them time to think. and relax. Reading will calm children down, prepare them for sleep, soothe a hurt, and give great joy.

Children who are read to often become good readers and thinkers. Reading is an extremely important part of their routine before naps and bedtime. No TV show, video, electronic book, or computer game can ever replace a family reading and talking together.