Choosing and Using Picturebooks - Teaching Approach

Picturebooks are an important genre of children’s literature and not just a step on the route to chapter books.  They support the development of sophisticated reading skills, enabling children to develop deep comprehension skills and to learn about narrative structure and character development in an accessible way.

Giving time and space for children to read, respond to and discuss the themes and structures of different picturebooks provides children with a strong understanding of how to construct a compelling narrative in an accessible way, including characterisation, setting, plot, creating empathy, pacing and structure.

The picture books which have featured in the courses have been very varied and draw on different demands of the reader. The project features books where:

  • The main narrative is carried by the words and the pictures complement that, whilst adding more detail and complexity.

  • The story is entirely in the pictures and the writing is an accompaniment which offers the some speech though does not elucidate who is speaking, demanding inference. The words emphasise the whole repetitive structure of the book

  • The words are only found in speech bubbles and the narrative is contained in the drawings and opening flaps

  • The details in the pictures give echoes referring to what has been seen before, leading subtly to the underlying theme

  • The words stand alone, telling a story with an explicit moral, and the pictures elaborate the story, giving much more to talk about in spotting details. The pictures appear to be deliberately aimed to provoke discussion of words as well as actions. 

It is fundamentally important that teachers understand how and when to use these texts in practice and consider the depth and range of approaches for using picturebooks when planning a sequence of work around such texts. The resource document, Choosing and Using Picturebooks, drawing on the work of Jane Doonan, gives useful considerations and subject knowledge to support teachers and other adults in using picturebooks effectively with children.