Any time is a good time for a “book walk,” but chilly temperatures make winter a great time for this indoor pre-reading activity. A book or picture walk takes place before you begin reading and is a chance for your child to look through the book and learn about its different parts: front cover, back cover, spine, title page, author and/or illustrator. Don’t forget to let kids hold and turn the pages of the book sometimes.
If the book is nonfiction, you can discuss items like indexes, tables of contents, glossaries and charts. This is also an opportunity to engage in a predictions conversation. What do you think the story is about? Can you tell what the main plot of the story will be? Who are the main characters of the story? Is there a certain emotion conveyed by the illustrations? The first time you try this, it might be helpful to model the activity by thinking aloud as you look through the pages, asking simple questions and answering some of them: “Who is this story about? I wonder what’s going to happen. I wonder why. Where are they? How will this end?”
After you “walk” through the book, read the story aloud and see how close you were in your predictions and whether the illustrations helped or hindered those predictions. Having these conversations will help you see how your child gathers information visually and the unique way she connects what she sees on the page to her own life experiences.
Keep in mind that you do not have to do a walk EVERY time you read a book to your child. But this activity will not only help with comprehension skills but also give kids a start on the informational and research tasks coming their way in school. So, grab a handful of new picture books and take a book walk today.