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Learning English through sharing picture books

Picture books

Foreword
Getting involved in your childs learning can have a positive impact upon both their attitude and the speed at which they learn. When parents help their children outside the classroom, there are rea l benets for childrens achievement inside the cla ssroom. Jim Knight, the UKs Ministe r of State for Schools and Learners: Parents have six times more impact on the learning of primary age chi ldren than teachers do. There are some simple ste ps you can take to encour age your child and build their condence in using English. British Council education al experts have developed new LearnEnglish Family products and services in order to support parents. We hope you enjoy using these products with your child. After all, learning tog ether is fun!

Every year thousands of childrens picture bo oks are published in the UK. Ch ildrens corners in books hops offer a bewildering choice of new and old favourites, illustrated by some of the best art ists working in Britain tod ay. Native-speaker children have many opportunit ies to enjoy these picture bo oks; there is no reason why young children learning Englis h as an additional langu age should not enjoy them, too.

Cressida Cowell and Ingri d Godon (Macmillan Childrens Book s, London, UK)

What shall we do with the Boo

Hoo Baby?

Child learning
The global experience of the British Council tells us that ch ildren have more chance of being succe ssful with their learning when teachers and parents work together.

Teacher

Parent

Written by Stella Blac kstone, illustrated by Debbie Harter (Barefoot Books) Reproduced by kind agreement with Barefoot Books Ltd (www.barefootbooks. com)

Bear About Town

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The advantages of beginning early

There was an old lady who

n oduced by kind permissio M Twinn 1973. Repr All rights reserved. s Play (International) Ltd. of Child

swallowed a y

glish, uction to listening to En From the very rst introd oks. lly selected picture bo children can enjoy carefu picture k up the short text of a Young learners soon pic ngs the red with an adult who bri book, if initially it is sha pages alive. a very iliar with stories. From Children are already fam gh narrative style. It is throu young age they talk in that they dene experiences their stories of everyday emotions g their ideas, hopes and themselves: expressin ative play. in drawing and imagin in language as well as stories ady used to decoding Many children are alre their home evision or lm in and information from tel ed the may have already enjoy language, while others en, picture book. Most childr interaction of sharing a er their n work out how to transf if guided by a parent, soo picture lls to get meaning from individual decoding ski books in English. g up is not only about pickin Sharing picture books giving children a wider also about another language, it is ts. rld, guided by their paren window on the wo ture books gives n of sharing pic The one-to-one interactio ically at nities to develop holist children added opportu

rents el, knowing that their pa their own speed and lev re more and more As children sha are encouraging them. often be nce develops. This can books their self-conde glish and proach unfamiliar En seen in the way they ap new experiences. h an parents and children wit Picture books provide language ing from their home obvious reason for switch nce in rents who lack conde to speaking English. Pa a text of a picture book is English nd that the xed and share, providing text to read useful prop. Apart from n, which the basis for interactio a picture book can be oping needs, ir childs devel parents can adjust to the nts. interests and attainme ing concerned that introduc Some parents may be ilds school t in with their ch picture books will not an aring a picture book is syllabus or text book. Sh nds families ng experience that bo additional English learni h lise that speaking Englis and helps children rea joy slipping English ilies en at home is fun. Many fam into everyday up from picture books phrases picked rd is rsations. Not now, Berna home language conve quite a favourite!

rd Not Now, Berna


David McKee ) (Random House

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It takes time to build up a childs readiness to talk about picture books in Englis h. Childrens silence, ho wever, does not mean that they are not listening and learni ng (see the British Council bookl et How children learn En glish as another language). Childr en usually understand more than they can say in wo rds and, if the book exp erience is focused and fun, the y usually want to pick up the new English at their own spe ed. Children are busy exp loring their world and most are keen to nd out someth ing new, particularly if it is presented in an encoura ging and attractive way.
Do Your Ears Hang Low ?

Learning from picture bo oks

Young childrens bored om threshold differs fro m adults. Many may ask for the sam e book to be read and re-read. Parents need to respond positively to these requests as re-readings provide the natural rep etition children may need for making meaning or pic king up new language as well as co nrming and rening lan guage they have already acquired . Picture books, sometime s referred to as real bo oks, to distinguish them fro m graded text books, exp ose children to a range of lan guage structures and vocabulary familiar to native-speaker children . Illustrations in real pictur e books are not merely supporting understand ing of language, as mig ht be the case in many text books . The different styles of artwork naturally broaden childr ens visual experiences. One of the delights of sharing picture books with childr en is that, on rst viewing, children tend to look at an illustr ation as a whole but with rep eated reading of the bo ok, details and subtleties usu ally emerge. The illustrations may be by well-known artists, pic tures may be photographs or the books may contain 3D novelty paper sculptures. How exciting it is for children to hold art in their hands. There is no doubt that exposure to picture books increases visual decoding skills and ove r time inuences creativity and the ability to appreciate design and illustration.

Caroline Jayne Church 2002

Parents can underestim ate their childrens ability to pick up more text each tim e a picture book is sha red. Many are surprised to see ho w keen their children are to join in reading if they are enco uraged to nish off a sen tence or say a stressed word like No each time it oc curs. Once children work ou t how to join in, they gra dually extend their skills to pic k up whole short senten ces until, eventually, they can rec ite most of a text as the y turn the pages to match it to the illustrations. Many a bu sy parent purposely skipping a littl e text has had their mi stake pointed out by their ch ild!

Julia Donaldson and Nick Sharratt (Macmillan Childrens Book s, London, UK)

Hippo Has A Hat

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within their children nd meaning Picture books also help ns re over emotional situatio own life. Children can po help to relieve e books that may contained within pictur iting they can encounter exc personal frustrations, or ir own ences way beyond the and imaginative experi power ir dreams. Imagine the environment or even the says, rmly shuts a book and a child feels as he or she GOODBYE Giant!

Selecting picture books


Picture books may be: ple story text including story books short sim conversation and rhyme t h short explanatory tex information books, wit rhyme ht introduce one story rhyme books, which mig s or an anthology of poem lpture rt text and 3D paper scu novelty books, with sho ng s, with an accompanyi character series book et. character doll or pupp and feel they books that they enjoy Parents need to select us! Before enthusiasm is infectio can read condently they are they need to plan how they introduce a book, read, follow and, each time they regoing to read the text pick up nd it more difcult to the same plan. Children differs each time. language if the reading

h short vital to select books wit In the early stages it is ssfully and pick up language succe texts, if children are to re their es. Children can measu in a way that self-motivat adult praise, together with merited own success and this, feeling about sharing contributes to a positive English picture books. rally slightly longer, it is gene Where a simple text is to the essential story rst reading advisable to limit the descriptions can this is understood, the language. Once (see the ng parentese language be gradually added usi h your child). Speaking English wit British Council booklet e selected to include som Most books should be level in English, d a childs language a little beyon age and start from familiar langu so the child can language. move on to some new ssfully, red several books succe Once children have sha ily in ether regularly in the fam the habit of reading tog ablished. English is likely to be est rases that lude some words or ph Ideally a book should inc glish, so giving ildrens everyday En can be transferred to ch transfer use their innate skills to them opportunities to ations. language to different situ

Next Please

Junge Ernst Jandl and Norman (Random House)

Monkey and Me
Emily Gravett s, London, UK) (Macmillan Childrens Book

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In selecting books paren ts need to think about gender and include some books that appeal to both bo ys and girls, so children have some common story exp eriences to exchange. Some boys nd it easier to relate to information books rather than story books .

Book time
For successful sharing it is important to set the scene for regular book times. Children need to know that this is when they can snugg le up to parents and fee l condent that their parents will foc us only on them and sha ring the book. Book time may be a sin gle session or part of a larger English session (see the British Council booklet Speaking English with your child) which includes other act ivities in English. Ideally there needs to be an English book time every day or at least eve ry weekday at about the same time, as frequent short exposure is more effec tive than fewer, longer sessions. Length can vary from ten minutes to longer periods to ma tch childrens readiness to learn and mood on the actual day. Regularity gives a feeling of security and someth ing to which children can look forward.

CD-ROMs and DVDs


Dear Zoo
Rod Campbell (Macmillan Childre ns Books, London , UK)

Some story books are sold with an attached CD -ROM or DVD. These offer childr en a different, less intima te and more passive experien ce than sharing picture books. For profound learning, it is best to share the book until children know most of the text by heart before exposi ng them to either the CD-ROM or DV D. Apart from the wealth of all-round experience s that come from sharing, children may not be ready, befor e they are familiar with the text, to cope with a voice and even accent that is different from the ir parents. By this time children are likely to have found ou t how to enjoy the picture bo ok, and may even want to read by themselves.

Kaye Umansky and Marg aret Chamberlain (Random House)

Pass the Jim, Jam

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to be read, re the choice of books It is a good idea to sha language may hide emotional or as childrens requests en st introduced once childr needs. A new book is be oks successfully. the other bo are beginning to read ed for a day new book should be sav Presentation of a children feel good. when both parents and

Book browsing

ng Parents role in introduci new books

en are dependent on the In the initial stages childr picking eraction for input and parents reading and int up language. share a es as children begin to The role gradually chang increases, childrens reading ability little of the reading. As dually diminishes. the role of the parent gra are w the text by heart and By the time children kno es book aloud to themselv capable of reading the uced to re-phrasing ts role is red or to others, the paren ising successes. mistakes and pra parent is managing the Throughout this time the t what into their child to nd ou experiences and tuning added ed and where they need stage they have reach ok eats each time a new bo support. This cycle rep re English the ildren learn mo is introduced, but as ch e. cycle takes less tim

ren enjoy of play where child browsing is a form Book ing the pages eir own time, turn themselves, in th books by an important nitiated play, it is want. Like all self-i when they e to revisit what it gives children tim level part of learning, as rning at their own nsolidate their lea they want and co nt. t that of the pare and speed and no ies to read to o need opportunit to Young children als for them to want ily, as it is natural the extended fam o a form of play. is als achievements; it rens demonstrate their to conrm in child te and help Successes motiva e family is what th a book in English ase their minds that reading ildren want to ple n. Young ch pects and nds fu ex th them. share fun times wi parents and also

Rosies Walk

Pat Hutchins ) (Random House

e library Building up a hom ll need to be stored

n already know we Books that childre like it, they at, when they feel ailable place so th in an av selves. At this it aloud to them a book and read can take of silent reading. n are not capable ing stage most childre the front cover fac ld be stored with Ideally books shou ely to is less lik g at a books spine outwards lookin g at this age. motivate browsin

Can You Spot the Spotty


John Rowe (Random House)

Dog?

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Books should not be ad ded to the home library before children know quite a lot of the text language. If children nd they can not read a text of a bo ok in the home library, the y are most likely to be demotivated. Keeping the feeling I can is imp ortant in the initial stages. An y I cant feelings take time and encouragement to chang e.

Dramatise the story reading and if possible includ Use different fun voices for animal noises and ch

e some physical gesture, as physical involvemen t helps in memorising languag e.

Sharing reading
The amount of parentes e language parents ne ed to use depends on childr ens language level in bo th their home language and En glish. In the rst few sharings of a new book, parents need to remember the follow ing:
Susan Laughs
Jeanne Willis and Ton y Ross (Random House)

aracters like a cross Grandma, as you read the story. Ch ildren love to imitate characterisa tion and transfer it to the ir own reading aloud.

Point to each word as you read so that children de Encourage joining in by letting children nish off
or make the noises of

velop better left-to-right eye movement, and become conscious of the shape of words. animals or transport. sentences

Make sure that children are close enough to see

Once the reading is nished, close the book and

how the parents lips mo ve to make sounds and how the eyes and face, as well as body language, convey the exc itement and emotions which facilitate underst anding. Read at the childrens pace, letting them look at the picture for as long as the y need. Young children are used to getting vis ual information to facilita te understanding. They oft en indicate that they hav e nished looking by tur ning their faces to look at the parent.

stay silent for a few seconds. Childr en may be in their own imaginative world and need time be fore they are ready to leave it. Asking too many quest ions about the book can spoil the magic. Families who en joy books together oft en nd that children, when they are ready, talk to them abou t the shared English books in their ho me language. If children use a home language word or phras e while talking English, it is generally be cause they have not yet acquired the word in English or have forgotten it. Make no mention about the mixture of lan guage and repeat back to them the whole phrase in Englis h. They will notice and generally pick up the English, ready to use it at some later sta ge.

Kaye Umansky and Nick

Stomp, chomp, big roar s! Here come the dinosaur s!


Sharratt

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rstand? How does the child unde ndings

Learning to read

Look Out! Its the Wolf!


Emile Jadoul (Evans)

rou decoding their own sur Young children are busy often ir home language, which and making sense of the ing about guage, if they are not talk includes a lot of new lan rstanding are very good at unde daily routines. Children ponding to it. Unlike to them and res the gist of what is said en do not another language, childr many adults learning out words they ry word. They pick wait to understand eve m context rest of the meaning fro understand and ll in the facial body language, eyes or clues and the speakers can get picture books, the child expressions. In sharing picture. additional clues from the ing, parents te quicker understand Initially, in order to facilita However, ating a word or phrase. may feel happier transl er that once only, using a whisp it is better to translate t. Children n and not part of the tex indicates it is a translatio y know a quick translation. If the easily understand from ations each to continue giving transl that parents are going uire the make the effort to acq book time, they do not English.

Cultural content

ists tend d by British-trained art Picture books illustrate typical of and cultural habits to reect environments m the se are very different fro British society. Where the e added ed to be prepared to giv childs world, parents ne language. explanation in the home

can ed when children who Parents may be concern code me language want to de already read in their ho g might . Parents think any readin words in picture books e of ls structured programm interfere with the schoo ching of reading h. Formal tea learning to read in Englis of reading sed with the experience should not be confu interest in re. If children show picture books for pleasu courage read, parents should en teaching themselves to lp them informally. their enthusiasm and he of the ucing the small letters They can begin by introd ter names. nds, not their let alphabet using their sou are the (for example b, d, m, t) The consonant letters sounds, know some of the letter simplest. Once children rds, at the beginning of wo point out these letters sounds (dog). stressing the initial letter letter re familiar with the small As children become mo roduce the simple vowels), int sounds (consonants and eating e of the small letters, rep capital letters by the sid their sounds. simple recognise the shape of Children soon begin to heart, and know the text by words as they already m to look to look for them. Ask the therefore know where expand er parts of the text and for the same word in oth this game.

r, What Do You See? Brown Bear, Brown Bea


Bill Martin Jr/Eric Carle (Pufn)

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Many children who are already reading in their home language soon underst and how simple decodin g works and continue by thems elves to recognise oth er short words in the text. To he lp their decoding, howe ver, parents need to tell them how to read short, but difcu lt words to decode, like the. If parents sing an alphab et song, explain that let ters have a name that is different fro m the sound it makes and in most alphabet songs we sin g the names of the letter s. Some children teach the mselves to read a text they already know orally, esp ecially if it is rhyme. Th ey use a number of strategies to decode the text and a little guessing to ll in until they know the text by heart. Many children have been usi ng these strategies fro m an early age to read logos of we ll-known products. Pra ise their efforts to read the text, but realise that this is res tricted reading based on a tex t they know orally.

However, being able to read a text motivates and is an important step on the journey to becoming a uent reader. Any reading done in an enjoyable, non-pressur ed way at this young age, when life long attitudes are being formed, is likely to contribute to a later love of languag e and books.

He who reads widely, owns a gifted pen.


Chinese saying

Eric Carle (Pufn)

From Head to Toe

Petr Horc ek (Walker) Cover illustration 2006 Petr Horc From Silly ek Suzy Goose by Petr Horc ek. Reproducd by perm ission of Walker Books Ltd, Lond on SE1 5HJ 1

Silly Suzy Goose

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www.britishcouncil.org/parents

www.britishcouncil.org/parents One of a series of booklets commissioned by the British Council to support parents: How children learn English as another language Speaking English with your child Learning English through sharing picture books Learning English through sharing rhymes Written by Opal Dunn, Author and Educational Consultant from the UK and founder of RealBook News British Council 2008 The United Kingdoms international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. A registered charity: 209131 (England and Wales) SC037733 (Scotland).