shutterstock_119489962 (1)The ability to predict the typical structure of a story is an important part of reading comprehension. Even before your child has the ability to sound out words and recognize letter combinations, he or she can begin to develop comprehension by interpreting pictures. The ability to understand a story through pictures helps build background knowledge essential for successful reading and strengthens visual thinking.

A picture walk is a fun way to practice “reading” pictures. The picture walk encourages your child to rely on pictorial clues to decipher the story’s plot, make predictions, and build comprehension skills.

Here’s how to picture walk with your child:

  • Select a book that has bright, colorful pictures that will appeal to your child’s interests.
  • Read aloud the title and author, allowing your child to examine the cover.
  • Ask your child what he or she believes the book will be about based on the title and cover picture.
  • Without reading the text, slowly flip through the pages of the book with your child.
  • Ask questions on each page to encourage your child to make predictions about the character’s actions. For example, “What is the little boy doing?” or “Why do you think the elephant is wearing a tutu?”
  • Vaguely respond to your child’s answers to avoid giving away the storyline. For example, “Maybe, we’ll have to see. Let’s keep looking through the pictures and then we can read to find out for sure.”

When you have completed your picture walk, read the story aloud to your child. Ask your child short questions while reading the story, but do not interrupt the flow of the storyline.

After reading the book aloud, ask your child questions to relate his or her predictions to the actual outcome of the story. For example, “Now that you know what happened, why was the elephant wearing a tutu?” or “What would you have done if you were the elephant?” If they are developmentally ready, ask your child how the story was similar to or different from the original predictions.

With these simple steps, you will create a meaningful, fun, and skill-building experience for your child.  The next time that your child wants to hear a story, take a walk together first. A picture walk that is…