We often think that pushing our kids to read chapter books and away from picture books is a sign that they are more advanced readers. Being the first to learn to read in the class may look impressive but you run the risk that that same pressure will in fact diminish a child’s independent love of reading and hold her back from achieving later on.
Do not think that just because chapter books have more text, full paragraphs and fewer pictures, they are therefore more complex than picture books. Children learn certain critical comprehension skills from picture books that cannot be taught through chapter books, such as: interpreting pictures based on the information given in the text; understanding that there is more to a story than what the words convey; and visualizing a story in their own mind. Furthermore a well-chosen picture book is rich in language and vocabulary which promotes better reading comprehension.
As your young child starts becoming a reader do not be tempted to throw away all the picture books on the shelf. In the transition phase the parent should alternate reading chapter books and picture books to their child. In our house my 7 year old daughter practises her aloud reading as she reads her reader from school and any other picture book she wants. At the same time I read to her at night. At the moment I am busy reading “James and the Giant Peach” by Roald Dahl to her. However, some nights she wants me to read one of her favourite picture books and I do that without question. I know she is still developing vital reading skills from the picture book.
Parent tip: Simply spend time enjoying (all kinds of) books with your children