Bringing a Picture Book to Life

Pile of children's books
Category: Reading

‘A terrific book matters to us as human beings. If a book makes children laugh, cry, squeal, shiver or wriggle and jiggle in some way, it takes up residence in their hearts and stays there.’

Mem Fox

I read a lot of picture books. Sometimes I’m reading them on my own, for my own interest, and sometimes I’m reading them with adults on a Bookbug training course. But my favourite time is the time spent reading with children. Children bring their own knowledge, enthusiasm and energy to the story, and in these moments, the books come to life.

Picture books are often a child’s first introduction to books and stories. The story, illustrations, characters, language and overall feel of the book can all capture a child’s imagination and interest.

Bringing a book to life sets children on a path of discovery

Bringing a book to life for children (and accompanying adults) is one of the most important things we can do as readers (and writers). It sets children on a path of discovery and encourages them to see books and reading as something exciting and relevant to their world.

There are lots of things to look for that can help bring a book to life. At Bookbug training, we encourage our delegates to think about a few things when choosing books to read aloud. We ask delegates to think about how children will relate to the story and the characters.

Are there any themes that will resonate with the children? How can children get involved in the story? What follow-on activities can they do to engage the children further? As a reader, identifying these elements can help to bring the book to life for the listener.

Child reading a picture book
When reading aloud, the reader’s voice is the most important tool. Reading aloud involves a level of performance, and clever use of elements such as vocal pitch, tone, volume and rate of speech help to draw the listener, and the reader further into the story.

A well timed pause, change in vocal volume, or emphasis on words or phrases can build the excitement or drama, and give the story further meaning. For children, it supports their understanding and interpretation of the world.

A story comes to life when it takes up space in a child’s imagination and the child is able to connect with the story. If a child can relate to the emotion, the theme, or the central message then the book becomes meaningful and relevant to them. If this happens, we’re inspiring a future generation of readers. And this love of books and reading will support children on a journey of self-discovery and lifelong learning.

Looking for some reading inspiration? Have a browse of our themed book lists for all ages, or choose a title from our list of 8 Fantastic Books to Read Aloud and get started today!

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