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On the role of pictures and picture books and comics in raising a child (blog marathon post 8)

If this is the first time you are reading a parenting post on my blog, please see these two earlier posts  both of which got a large amount of responses and requests for more posts like them.  If you do not know me, please read disclaimer before you proceed.Those who read me regularly, welcome back and read on :-)

What role do pictures play in raising a child?

"Pictures? Picture-books? Why? I'd rather show my child the real thing," exclaimed a mother once, in a course  that I was attending for Glen Doman method of education. (which I am a big fan of as have I used it for both my children when they were toddlers)

The lady who was conducting the course is someone I respect a lot and whom I later  had the opportunity to work with closely. She smiled . "If you do not show your child picture books, there is vast universe out there which you may miss. Think of the Solar system, think of Antartica, think of polar bears, why simply think of Issac Asimov, " she said with a wink.

Later I thought about what she had said. I had always used picture books for my children right from the time they were babies, without  thinking much about it, without realising the importance of it  and also without knowing  that I had indeed been unlocking a vast door to a new world for them. She was so right!

I, guided by my mother,  had started showing board-books to my son right from the time he was a  4 or 5 month old baby. The books I chose were picture books with eye catching colours and illustrations, usually one on a page, so as to not distract the baby with too many visuals. The books were tiny books that would fit into an adult's palm. I would show him a picture and if it was the picture of a pig, I would  say (in my mother tongue)
"What is this? PIG" (with PIG being said in a slightly louder tone), and then I would say "What does pig say? OINK OINK". He would delightedly chuckle and would try to imitate the sounds he was hearing. Two things were happening here though he and I were both not aware of it.
His brain was making a connection between a picture and two sounds (PIG and OINK) and relating the two. His visual sense was being stimulated along with his sense of hearing and co-relating.

Besides, we were enjoying it so much and also I was establishing a connection of happiness to  books and reading. Early on, I was conveying the message to my 5 month old infant that books are fun and reading is fun. I was doing this solely through pictures. What a marvellous tool pictures are!

Now my son is 12 and recently he brought this picture back from school which the History teacher had made them do. It is about the battle of Hastings.

I found it  indeed a wonderful way to teach history to the children using pictures. The teacher had explained the incident which happened and its historical significance and the children were asked to reproduce it through their own cartoon strip. What fun! More importantly one can be sure that the lesson learnt here would remain with him for life. (Unlike when I had to memorise the dates of battle of Panipat as a student  which I don't recall up to this day! Had I drawn a picture comic strip I'd have probably remembered even now!)

As children, we read Amar Chitra Kathas and Indrajaal comics (Phantom and Mandrake). I still swear by them. I read Amar Chitra Kathas without fail to my children. There is a wealth of information, great language, History, mythology and even true inspirational stories of real life heroes, buried in them. They are indeed a treasure and they are so interesting because they are pictorial.

Another amazing series which hones the observation skills of children (which can later go a long way in developing quick reading skills) is the 'Where is Wally?" series of picture books. If you have not seen them as an adult, I suggest you quickly grab one from your nearest book store. They are indeed brilliant and simply amazing and if you haven't done one Wally , you truly are missing something in life :-) Don't take my word for it, grab a Wally book to see what I am talking about.

If you have very small children who are just learning alphabets, then the book Chica chicka boom boom is a must read one. It talks about all the alphabets having a party! It starts this way "A told B, and B told C,  I'll meet you on top of the coconut tree." :-) My children used to love this book. Similarly Dr.Suess's book of alphabets is a great way to jump start vocabulary and imagination instead of the usual 'A for apple.'. This book has amazing things like I for an' itchy ithcy ithchabod' with suitable pictures to match.

Pictures speak louder than words. Pictures grab your attention. Pictures are powerful and a very important tool is raising a child if used well.

Fill their world with pictures, but choose the pictures well and most importantly spend lots of time with them (with the pictures) and you will be pleasantly surprised  and may gaze in amazement at the magical worlds that you can explore along with your child.
Current mood video (see right) : I can't help falling in love with you. Elvis presley (one of my all time  favourite songs)


  1. Ya, i have noticed the magic of pictures with my daughter too who is 2.5 yrs now. First she tells me story on her own by looking at pictures and then i read her the story from the book.
    its amazing how pictures get regustered in their minds forever :)

  2. nice one.. completely goes round the point "pictures speak louder than words" and specifically more when human memory is more as pictorial memory rather then any other kind..

    just one comment on your blog style.. i understand your feeling and motto to convey this message in best possible manner.. but can be made bit more concise.. (sorry if i sound rude)

  3. Anonymous2:59 AM

    Oh I have noticed this too! It is a wonderful way to start a child off in the wonderful world of books. I started reading to my daughter when she was just a few days old, and all of them were picture books. Within a few months, as soon as she was old enough to hold things in her hand, she started taking the books and turning pages, captivated by the pictures.

    Pictures and picture books do have a very important role to play in bringing up a child.

  4. picture books are the best way to communicate with your child... it helps in brain development!

  5. Harman: yes. it indeed does. thank you for commenting so regularly.I do appreciate.

    Wordzndreamz: oh yes. they do.I am sure your daughter will love books.

    Mihir: no, you don't sound rude and thanks for your comment. It is just 800 words and I have given so many useful links and names of books.Usually I am paid to write this stuff :) I am guessing the names of books would be really useful for parents looking for a good read for children in that age group. Single guys may not really find this post useful :P :)

    Life begins: yes! And we dont even think about it when we show them picture books, isn't it?

  6. informative!! I am so delighted to have read this, as I am about to enter into mommyhood soon;-) Am sure this post is going to be so very applicable in my real life! Thanks for sharing!


  7. Wonderful views and thanks for sharing those books... :)

    I have a niece who is 4 years old.. Will share some of these secrets with her..:)

  8. Wow! I love your parenting posts :)
    I was looking for some books for my 2 year old neice. She, like the rest of my family, has inherited the love for reading and we're all very pleased :)

  9. I dont have kids yet,but im sure the day i have them,im gonna try and raise them just the way u have been doing:)
    love this post:)

  10. Very very useful post with lots of information! Loved it!

  11. Anonymous11:26 AM

    Very informative post preeti thansk for it :-)
    do you think i can start using chick boom book for my 1yr old daughter or is it too early.
    Right now i m using ducklink and friends board book series...the one you mentioned pig and oink sound one :-)

  12. Anonymous11:26 AM

    Very informative post preeti thansk for it :-)
    do you think i can start using chick boom book for my 1yr old daughter or is it too early.
    Right now i m using ducklink and friends board book series...the one you mentioned pig and oink sound one :-)

  13. "A picture speaks a thousand words." You have just re-emphasized this quotation Preeti. Picture books truly are a great educational tool and they are so much fun for elders as well. Your post brought back memories of reading Tinkle & Chandamama. And, also the Panchatantra series :)

    Will keep these tools handy when I become a mother.

  14. Totally true! Come to think of it, I don't think I remember much stuff that was devoid of pictures. Hence, my Economics major was a total waste! No pictures, only line graphs! ;p

    The 'Pig' and 'Oink' incident made me smile so bright, I did exactly the same when my nephew was lil' - he was so much more interested in stuff then. He hates when I sit to teach him maths!

    P.S: I love the mood video song, my all time fave too! Have you watched the movie 'Fools rush in'?

  15. Well said Preeti .. Pictures talk louder than words and the kids will love seeing the pictures ..

    I have a collection of Read and grow with Pepper and also Nini series for my 4 year old...She simply love that books....

    I will try the books which you suggested also ..

  16. Though am not a parent as yet I have decided to try these with my nephew. I was already contemplating the board books for him, but was not sure if he is too small for tat. he is just about 50 days old.

  17. Would like to implement it but don't have any bakras yet :)

  18. Stuck in the same situation as Dhanya :)

  19. Yeah Preeti that is so much true, last week i was roaming in Toy-r'-us wanting to buy gifts for a 2 years old sweet kiddo...

    I would have roamed in each and every aisle checking out gifts.
    At last i reached the book section, I ended up buying 4 books, and guess what before billing, i would have read one book till end as it fun to read those books.


  20. I'm so much missing those comic days. I'm still a very big comic fan & love reading a lot of internet comics

  21. Rohit: Oh yes. I too miss those comics days :) Internet comics tend to be more dark--dont you think?

    Anish: i also enjoy children's books a lot :)

    Dhanya: LOL--that was hilarious :)

    MS : heheheheh :)

    Anusha: 50 days --i dont know if he will be able to focus yet on pics. Maybe showing him colorful objects will be good?

    Sudha; I dont know about pepper and nini..oh yes the books I said are really great ones.

  22. Sparkling: math can be made more fun too :P :D Yeah--all that oinking and mewing etc--such fun it was!!

    Palsworld; OH yes--chandamama I also used to read. i bought one for my kids when I was in inda (yes they are still there). But they have changed the size now. It is not as i remember.

    Rashworld: You can introduce it like a story and see how she likes it..Not as alphabets but as story characters. I would be able to tell if I play with her!(I used to work with pre school children.Used to really love my job!)

    Mamta:Thank U!U will like Wally series..i am sure of this!

    Santasizing: thank U!! Huge
    compliment that is.

  23. Meira: Thanks a lot! Ur niece will surely love Dr.Suess books.

    Sushobhan: Try Dr.Suess Green eggs and Ham. she will like it :)

    Durga: Hearty congrats and all the best! Happy to help :)

  24. It's good to hear from parents who love picture books:) Here's why Tulika thinks picture books are valuable:

  25. Didn't know the significance of picture books. Now, thanks to you, I do! I was a fan of Amar Chitra Katha and champak too! :D I'd read them over and over :)

  26. Hi Preeti,

    I love your blog and am very jealous of your versatility :)I admire anyone who can write and you do so much more than that!

    I love reading books, though I mostly read only fiction.I have an 8 month old son and would love to inculcate the reading habit in him from a young age. Needless to say, I loved this post. Please post more articles on parenting!

  27. I just stumbled by ur blog ... My husband and I read LOTs of books to our girls (5 and 1.5yrs). Everynight we read to them - My 5y.o gets to choose 3 books of her choice - one easy one that she can read by herself (as she has started to read a few words) and the others we read out to her. The 1.5 also gets to choose 2 read to her by her sister sometimes (great way to get the 5yo to practice her reading) and the other we read out...

    Oh we love Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and Dr Seuss...Just love them lots...


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