Picture Walks

There is a lot more to reading books than just figuring out what the words say. Going on a “picture walk” can help children learn how books work, how fun they can be, and why they’re important.

Prep It:

All you need is a picture book and a comfy place to read together!

For young toddlers and infants, board books and bath books are good options. At Walmart, Meijer, local bookstores, Goodwill, Salvation Army, and on Amazon, you can find board books (books made with thick cardboard pages) and bath books (books with waterproof vinyl pages) that are safe even for babies to use on their own.
1. Start by holding the book yourself and let them point at it. As they become careful pointers, graduate them to the following steps.

2. Teach them how to carefully turn the cover while you hold the book.

3. Teach them how to carefully turn pages while you hold the book.

4. Lay the book on a table and have them turn pages without picking it up.

5. Let them hold the book and turn pages.

Play It:

1. Start with the cover

Show children the front of the book. Tell them: “This is the cover of our book. What do you see on the cover?” If they are ready to, allow the child to hold the book so that they can point at and talk about what they notice.

If they have trouble starting or don’t go into much detail, ask them silly questions. If it’s a book about frogs, you could ask “Did you see this big whale? Nooo, that’s not a whale! What is it?”

2. “Reading” the inside pages

On the first page, point to the picture and ask the child what they see. Ask them to tell you what’s happening.

Ask these types of questions to prompt children to describe what they see:

  • What shapes do you see?
  • What colors?
  • Are there any animals or plants?
  • Are there any people?
  • What are the animals or people doing?
  • Where is the picture — in a house, the beach, forest, city, mountains?

Have them make up a story about the picture. It’s safe to move on when the child starts to lose interest in that page- no need to dig so deep that they become frustrated.

Repeat this on each page until the end of the book.

You may choose to read the actual written text, but “reading” the book using pictures only is a great learning experience for young children.

3. Challenge

Have children describe what they see in one picture, flip the page, describe what’s on the second picture, and then have them tell you a story about what’s happening on both pages. As they get better at this, increase to three pages, four pages, and on, until they are able to do this with a short book. Then, you can start using longer books.