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)