Picture books are great – in case you didn’t know already

Scientists show books with detailed pictures help children learn just as well as flashcards and vocabulary books


Picture books don’t just look fun – they teach your child as much as picture flash cards or vocabulary books. Which makes reading much more fun – for toddlers and parents alike.


When you read picture books to your child, I bet you think you’re just reading. But according to researchers at the University of Waterloo, you’re using a special form of language that helps your child in a broader way. 

So don’t miss our 100 best children’s books – year-by-year.

The study recorded 25 mothers while they read two books to their toddlers, each featuring 6 animals.

In one book, the animals were part of a story told in fully illustrated pictures. But in the other book, a picture of each animal was presented against a blank background.

“What we found was that mums in our study used a special form of language – something called generics – as frequently when reading the picture storybook to their child as the picture vocabulary book,” said Professor O’Neill of the Department of Psychology at Waterloo.

“Generic language tells children about animals in general, not just about one animal. It’s the difference between saying ‘This giraffe has a long neck’ and ‘Giraffes have long necks.’ In the second case, we are more likely to learn something about all giraffes in general – that they all have long necks.”

So there you go. Keep describing those pictures at story time!

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MadeForMums Writer – Jessica Gibb

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