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Learning English through sharing picture books
Picture books Foreword Getting involved in your child’s learning can have a positive impact upon both their attitude and the speed at which they learn. there is no reason why young children learning Englis h as an additional langu age should not enjoy them. British Council education al experts have developed new LearnEnglish Family products and services in order to support parents. illustrated by some of the best art ists working in Britain tod ay. We hope you enjoy using these products with your child. too. Teacher Parent Written by Stella Blac kstone. Ch ildren’s corners in books hops offer a bewildering choice of new and old favourites.barefootbooks. illustrated by Debbie Harter (Barefoot Books) Reproduced by kind agreement with Barefoot Books Ltd (www.org/parents 2 3 . Jim Knight. London. the UK’s 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. learning tog ether is fun! Every year thousands of children’s picture bo oks are published in the UK.’ There are some simple ste ps you can take to encour age your child and build their conﬁdence in using English.britishcouncil. Native-speaker children have many opportunit ies to enjoy these picture bo oks. 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. After all. Cressida Cowell and Ingri d Godon (Macmillan Children’s Book s. com) Bear About Town www. When parents help their children outside the classroom. there are rea l beneﬁts for children’s achievement inside the cla ssroom.
knowing that their pa their own speed and lev re more and more As children sha are encouraging them. Repr All rights reserved. ‘Not now. a very iliar with stories. if initially it is sha pages alive. which the basis for interactio a picture book can be oping needs. From Children are already fam gh narrative style.org/parents 4 5 . often be nce develops. ’s Play (International) Ltd. This can books their self-conﬁde glish and proach unfamiliar En seen in the way they ap new experiences. picture book. 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. providing text to read useful prop. rld. while others en.britishcouncil. Berna home language conve quite a favourite! rd Not Now. in drawing and imagin in language as well as stories ady used to decoding Many children are alre their home evision or ﬁlm in and information from tel ed the may have already enjoy language. uction to listening to En From the very ﬁrst introd oks. of Child swallowed a ﬂy glish. Berna David McKee ) (Random House www. Apart from n.The advantages of beginning early There was an old lady who n oduced by kind permissio © M Twinn 1973. it is ts. Many fam into everyday up from picture books phrases picked rd’ is rsations. It is throu young age they talk in that they deﬁne experiences their stories of everyday emotions g their ideas. Most childr interaction of sharing a er their n work out how to transf if guided by a parent. h an parents and children wit Picture books provide language ing from their home obvious reason for switch nce in rents who lack conﬁde to speaking English. hopes and themselves: expressin ative play. 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. soo picture lls to get meaning from individual decoding ski books in English. 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. Pa a text of a picture book is English ﬁnd that the ﬁxed and share. interests and attainme ing concerned that introduc Some parents may be ild’s school t in with their ch picture books will not ﬁ an aring a picture book is syllabus or text book. ir child’s devel parents can adjust to the nts. g up is not only about pickin Sharing picture books giving children a wider also about another language.
britishcouncil. ho wever. Picture books. details and subtleties usu ally emerge. exp ose children to a range of lan guage structures and vocabulary familiar to native-speaker children . UK) Hippo Has A Hat 6 7 www. they can rec ite most of a text as the y turn the pages to match it to the illustrations. children tend to look at an illustr ation as a whole but with rep eated reading of the bo ok. sometime s referred to as ‘real bo oks’. Children are busy exp loring their world and most are keen to ﬁnd out someth ing new. Childr en usually understand more than they can say in wo rds and. eventually. they gra dually extend their skills to pic k up whole short senten ces until. There is no doubt that exposure to picture books increases visual decoding skills and ove r time inﬂuences creativity and the ability to appreciate design and illustration. pic tures may be photographs or the books may contain 3D novelty paper sculptures. Once children work ou t how to join in. as mig ht be the case in many text books . 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 Children’s Book s. if the book exp erience is focused and fun. London. Illustrations in real pictur e books are not merely supporting understand ing of language. the y usually want to pick up the new English at their own spe ed. particularly if it is presented in an encoura ging and attractive way. One of the delights of sharing picture books with childr en is that. Children’s silence. 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). Caroline Jayne Church 2002 Parents can underestim ate their children’s ability to pick up more text each tim e a picture book is sha red. Many may ask for the sam e book to be read and re-read. Do Your Ears Hang Low ? Learning from picture bo oks Young children’s bored om threshold differs fro m adults’. How exciting it is for children to hold art in their hands. The illustrations may be by well-known artists. on ﬁrst viewing. The different styles of artwork naturally broaden childr en’s visual experiences. Many are surprised to see ho w keen their children are to join in ‘reading’ if they are enco uraged to ﬁnish off a sen tence or say a stressed word like ‘No’ each time it oc curs. 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 nﬁrming and reﬁning lan guage they have already acquired .It takes time to build up a child’s readiness to talk about picture books in Englis h.org/parents . to distinguish them fro m graded text books.
Imagine the environment or even the says. London. rally slightly longer. the language. wit rhyme ht introduce one story rhyme books. Once (see the ng parentese language be gradually added usi h your child). together with merited own success and this. Children differs each time. so giving ildren’s everyday En can be transferred to ch transfer use their innate skills to them opportunities to ations. each time they regoing to read the text pick up ﬁnd it more difﬁcult to the same plan.org/parents 8 9 . character doll or pupp and feel they books that they enjoy Parents need to select us! Before enthusiasm is infectio can read conﬁdently – they are they need to plan how they introduce a book.britishcouncil. UK) (Macmillan Children’s Book www. or ir own ences way beyond the and imaginative experi power ir dreams. red several books succe Once children have sha ily in ether regularly in the fam the habit of ‘reading’ tog ablished. read. move on to some new ssfully. English is likely to be est rases that lude some words or ph Ideally a book should inc glish. Children can po help to relieve e books that may contained within pictur iting they can encounter exc personal frustrations. feeling about sharing contributes to a positive English picture books.within their children ﬁnd meaning Picture books also help ns re over emotional situatio own life. Children can measu in a way that self-motivat adult praise. Speaking English wit British Council booklet e selected to include som Most books should be level in English. which mig s or an anthology of poem lpture rt text and 3D paper scu novelty books. with an accompanyi character series book et. with sho ng s. ﬁrmly 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. d a child’s language a little beyon age and start from familiar langu so the child can language. language to different situ Next Please Junge Ernst Jandl and Norman (Random House) Monkey and Me Emily Gravett s. follow and. if children are to re their es. it is gene Where a simple text is to the essential story rst reading advisable to limit the ﬁ descriptions can this is understood. language if the reading • • • • • h short vital to select books wit In the early stages it is ssfully and pick up language succe texts.
Length can vary from ten minutes to longer periods to ma tch children’s readiness to learn and mood on the actual day. 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. Kaye Umansky and Marg aret Chamberlain (Random House) Pass the Jim. befor e they are familiar with the text. Apart from the wealth of all-round experience s that come from sharing. London . less intima te and more passive experien ce than sharing picture books. By this time children are likely to have found ou t how to enjoy the picture bo ok. Regularity gives a feeling of security and someth ing to which children can look forward. so children have some common story exp eriences to exchange. Book time For successful sharing it is important to set the scene for regular book times. CD-ROMs and DVDs Dear Zoo Rod Campbell (Macmillan Childre n’s Books. Children need to know that this is when they can snugg le up to parents and fee l conﬁdent 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. children may not be ready. UK) Some story books are sold with an attached CD -ROM or DVD.org/parents .In selecting books paren ts need to think about gender and include some books that appeal to both bo ys and girls. as frequent short exposure is more effec tive than fewer.britishcouncil. Ideally there needs to be an ‘English book time’ every day or at least eve ry weekday at about the same time. Jam 10 11 www. to cope with a voice and even accent that is different from the ir parents’. Some boys ﬁnd it easier to relate to information books rather than story books . For profound learning. and may even want to read by themselves. longer sessions. These offer childr en a different.
At this ’ it aloud to them a book and ‘read can take of silent reading. children’s reading ability little of the reading. Like all self-i when they e to revisit what it gives children tim level part of learning. motivate browsin Can You Spot the Spotty John Rowe (Random House) Dog? www. Young ch pects and ﬁnds fu ex th them. cycle takes less tim ren enjoy of play where child browsing is a form Book ing the pages eir own time. they at. This cycle rep re English the ildren learn mo is introduced.britishcouncil. share fun times wi parents and also Rosie’s 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. 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 parent’s reading and int up language. 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 book’s spine outwards – lookin g at this age. the paren ising successes. it ren’s demonstrate their to conﬁrm 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. the other bo are beginning to ‘read’ ed for a day new book should be sav Presentation of a children ‘feel good’. re the choice of books It is a good idea to sha language may hide emotional or as children’s requests en st introduced once childr needs. is als achievements. when they feel ailable place so th in an av selves. turn themselves. mistakes and pra parent is managing the Throughout this time the t what into their child to ﬁnd ou experiences and tuning added ed and where they need stage they have reach ok eats each time a new bo support. it is want. 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. A new book is be oks successfully. in th books by an important nitiated play. share a es as children begin to The role gradually chang increases. 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 t’s role is red or to others.to be read. but as ch e. as rning at their own nsolidate their lea they want and co nt.org/parents 12 13 . as it is natural the extended fam o a form of play.
Kaye Umansky and Nick Stomp. Families who en joy books together oft en ﬁnd that children. as well as body language. it is generally be cause they have not yet acquired the word in English or have forgotten it. ready to use it at some later sta ge. sentences • Make sure that children are close enough to see • Once the reading is ﬁnished. An y ‘I can’t’ feelings take time and encouragement to chang e. If children use a home language word or phras e while talking English. as you read the story. animals or transport. Read at the children’s pace. They oft en indicate that they hav e ﬁnished looking by tur ning their faces to look at the parent. Keeping the feeling ‘I can’ is imp ortant in the initial stages.Books should not be ad ded to the home library before children know quite a lot of the text language. when they are ready.britishcouncil. Sharing reading The amount of parentes e language parents ne ed to use depends on childr en’s language level in bo th their home language and En glish. Young children are used to getting vis ual information to facilita te understanding. They will notice and generally pick up the English. convey the exc itement and emotions which facilitate underst anding. • Dramatise the story reading and if possible includ • Use different fun voices for animal noises and ch e some physical gesture. the y are most likely to be demotivated. talk to them abou t the shared English books in their ho me language. • Point to each word as you read so that children de • Encourage joining in by letting children ﬁnish off or make the noises of velop better left-to-right eye movement. Ch ildren love to imitate characterisa tion and transfer it to the ir own ‘reading’ aloud.org/parents 15 . and become conscious of the shape of words. • stay silent for a few seconds. Asking too many quest ions about the book can spoil the magic. close the book and • • how the parent’s lips mo ve to make sounds and how the eyes and face. Childr en may be in their own imaginative world and need time be fore they are ready to leave it. parents need to remember the follow ing: Susan Laughs Jeanne Willis and Ton y Ross (Random House) aracters like ‘a cross Grandma’. letting them look at the picture for as long as the y need. In the ﬁrst few sharings of a new book. big roar s! Here come the dinosaur s! Sharratt 14 www. Make no mention about the mixture of lan guage and repeat back to them the whole phrase in Englis h. chomp. If children ﬁnd they can not read a text of a bo ok in the home library. as physical involvemen t helps in memorising languag e.
parents te quicker understand Initially. t) The consonant letters sounds. parents should en teaching themselves to lp them informally. rep capital letters by the sid their sounds.org/parents . not their let alphabet using their sou are the (for example b. eyes or clues and the speaker’s can get picture books. Where the e added ed to be prepared to giv child’s world. childr many adults learning out words they ry word. may feel happier transl er that once only. 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 ne language. Cultural content ists tend d by British-trained art Picture books illustrate typical of and cultural habits to reﬂect environments m the se are very different fro British society. Once children rds. their enthusiasm and he of the ucing the small letters They can begin by introd ter names. Children ponding to it. They pick wait to understand eve m context rest of the meaning fro understand and ﬁll in the facial body language. Unlike to them and res the gist of what is said en do not another language. In sharing picture.britishcouncil. If children show picture books for pleasu courage read. stressing the initial letter letter re familiar with the small As children become mo roduce the simple vowels). at the beginning of wo point out these letters sounds (dog). Children n and not part of the tex indicates it is a translatio y know a quick translation. simple recognise the shape of Children soon begin to heart. in order to facilita However. Formal tea learning to read in Englis of reading sed with the experience should not be confu interest in re. if they are not talk includes a lot of new lan rstanding are very good at unde daily routines. d. ating a word or phrase. Ask the therefore know where expand er parts of the text and for the same word in oth this game. know some of the letter simplest. they do not English. using a whisp it is better to translate t. If the easily understand from ations each to continue giving transl that parents are going uire the make the effort to acq book time.rstand? How does the child unde ndings Learning to read Look Out! It’s the Wolf! Emile Jadoul (Evans) rou decoding their own sur Young children are busy often ir home language. What Do You See? Brown Bear. Brown Bea Bill Martin Jr/Eric Carle (Pufﬁn) 16 17 www. and know the text by words as they already m to look to look for them. m. which and making sense of the ing about guage. the child expressions. Parents think any readin words in picture books e of l’s structured programm interfere with the schoo ching of reading h. r. additional clues from the ing. int sounds (consonants and eating e of the small letters. nds.
Lond on SE1 5HJ 1 Silly Suzy Goose 18 19 www. If parents sing an alphab et song. To he lp their decoding. owns a gifted pen. like ‘the’. being able to read a text motivates and is an important step on the journey to becoming a ﬂuent reader.org/parents . Pra ise their efforts to read the text. is likely to contribute to a later love of languag e and books. Reproducd by perm ission of Walker Books Ltd.’ Chinese saying Eric Carle (Pufﬁn) From Head to Toe Petr Horác ˘ek (Walker) Cover illustration © 2006 Petr Horác From Silly ˘ek Suzy Goose by Petr Horác ˘ek. when life long attitudes are being formed. parents need to tell them how to read short. ‘He who reads widely. 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. Th ey use a number of strategies to decode the text and a little guessing to ﬁll in until they know the text by heart.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. but realise that this is res tricted reading based on a tex t they know orally.britishcouncil. but difﬁcu lt words to decode. non-pressur ed way at this young age. However. Many children have been usi ng these strategies fro m an early age to ‘read’ logos of we ll-known products. Any reading done in an enjoyable. howe ver. esp ecially if it is rhyme.
www.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 Kingdom’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. . A registered charity: 209131 (England and Wales) SC037733 (Scotland).britishcouncil.