How Studying Illustrations Helps Beginning Reader’s Comprehension

by Melissa on April 5, 2010

You love books.

Your house is a house where literature is valued. You read for information, you read to escape, you read for pleasure. Your child has noticed this.

Before your child could talk, they saw you looking at the pages with words scrawled on them. They might not say it, but they want to be a part of the club. Your club. The reader’s club. And now, your child is ready. They’re ready to take that leap. They’re ready to join the club of readers.

They’re ready in their heart, but they don’t have all the skills. How can you help make their first attempts positive? How can you help your child feel successful?

You’re about to learn one of the easiest, most engaging tricks in the book to help your kid feel like a huge success when beginning to read.

Pay attention to the pictures!

Talking about the illustrations in books is engaging. It’s a great way for you to activate the part in your child’s brain that holds a bunch of knowledge that will make them feel like champs when they try to tackle unknown words.

So, sit next to your child, and before they even attempt to sound out letters, take their hand and go on a picture walk.

As you turn the pages, ask them questions about the pictures. Have a conversation. They’ll be using words that are printed when you talk, and when the time comes for them to attempt to read on their own…those words will be at the tip of their tongue because they just used them when you talked! It sounds so simple, and it is. That’s the beauty of it.

Below you’ll find some questions that will help you if you get stuck. Use it as a guide, come up with your own, but always, always keep the conversation authentic. Think about what you love about being in the club. And welcome your kiddo in.

  • Who’s in the picture? How can you describe the character? (Furry, small, boy, daughter, knight, Granma, old, dirty)
  • How do you think that character is feeling? (Sad) How do you know? (I can see them crying, they are frowning)
  • What’s happening in this picture?
  • What do you think will happen next? What are your predictions?
  • What details do you notice?
  • What is the setting? Where’s the story taking place?
  • Can you see any clues that might help us figure out what the problem might be in this story?
  • Does it look like the problem gets solved?

Melissa is the founder of Tandem Teaching and teaches in the inner-city. She blogs weekly about tips parents can implement to enhance their connection with their children and ways to bring out their children’s inherent gifts. Contact her for a private consulting session.


Jim April 5, 2010 at 1:04 pm

This is useful. Pictures can teach a lot of new vocabulary, especially adjectives. Looking at pictures is observing, and many kids learn better from observing.

JenO April 6, 2010 at 8:02 am

Dolly has a series of books about Mr. Pusskins. There is only one word per page so we have to make up a story to keep her engaged. Mr. Pusskins is an orange, giant tomcat so we always say “big, fat, ginger tom, Mr. Pusskins…..”. Great post Melissa. Also it forces us adults to use our creativity which can tend to dry up in old age =)