What are Picture Books?

"Picture Book" is a book most often written for children, in which the content is conveyed through the use of pictures with or without words.

The text and illustrations combine to tell a story. With minimal words, the illustrations complement the text and provide information that is not stated in the text.

Parents can talk to their children about picture books in different ways – they can read the text, or they can tell the story from the pictures or by combining both the words and the pictures.

A unique story can be created in your own words.

Features of Picture Books

  • The story line is presented in a brief and straightforward manner.
  • The story contains a limited number of concepts for easy understanding.
  • Text is written in a direct and simple style.


  • The illustrations in picture books help children make meaning of and understand the story.
  • They help to build background knowledge which is important as children learn to read.
  • Sharing picture books with a child provides an opportunity for literacy-rich conversations.
  • One of the wonderful benefits of reading these books is how each child creates the story in his/her own way from the same pictures. This enhances creativity and broadens the horizons of imagination.
  • It is an excellent way to build important early literacy skills- listening, vocabulary, comprehension, and increased awareness of how stories are "built.
  • Children learn facts, concepts or values and apply them to real life.

Tips for parents

Below are a few tips for sharing picture books with a child-

  • Make reading an enjoyable experience. Make it a routine.
  • Turn off the TV or radio so your child can focus and listen to your voice.
  • Choose books to help you teach. Read different kinds of books. And reread the favorite ones.
  • Look at the cover and talk to the child about the book's title. You can make a few predictions about the story.
  • Flip the pages and take a "picture walk". Enjoy the illustrations. Talk about what you see. This will enrich the storytelling. Now go back through the book a second time and get ready for some great storytelling.
  • You can vividly create stories as per the interest of your child.
  • Use different voices for different characters, add sound effects and use interesting words with effective voice modulation.
  • Let the child tell the story in his/her own words. Encourage them to add information by asking "W" questions: Who? Where? When? Why?
  • Finish the book with a few simple questions- What was your favorite part of your story? What was your favorite character or illustration?

Books with unrealistic content may present a challenge to children in separating which aspects of the book apply to the real world and fantasy. Therefore, books with realistic content are more supportive of learning, especially when learning conceptual information such as scientific facts and concepts.


  1. Children's Department- Enoch Pratt Free Library; https://www.prattlibrary.org/research/tools/index.aspx?cat=99&id=4554
  2. Ministry of Education Republic of Singapore; Nurturing Early Learners; https://www.moe.gov.sg/docs/default-source/document/education/preschool/...
  3. Reading Rockets (2013). Monthly tips for parents. Sharing Wordless Picture Books. VA: WETA Public Broadcasting. https://www.readingrockets.org/article/sharing-wordless-picture-books
  4. Gabrielle A. Strouse, Angela Nyhout and Patricia A. Ganea, The Role of Book Features in Young Children's Transfer of Information from Picture Books to Real-World Contexts. Front Psychol. 2018 Feb 6;9:50.