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Column: The Importance of Exploring Visual Literacies

By Chandler Tucker

IMC Student

Most individuals remember the first time that their mom or dad switched from buying  them books filled with colorful photographs and illustrations to text-heavy novels.

Grade school teaches that one of the most significant skills in life is the ability to read; however, several of them tend to just focus on the importance of the words written in these stories instead of the pictures that depict them. Our society believes that illustrated books are meant to serve as a  transitory phase for children of young ages, but they truly are so much more than that. 

Books such as “Goodnight Moon” and “Marshmallow” have one prominent thing in common. These stories are both popular picture books that have been passed down and read by generations of school children.

Sadly, these books are limited to a small slice of students because parents and teachers are getting rid of them in order to allow their children to expand their literacy. What they do not realize is that instead of preventing these individuals from promoting their skills, picture books actually allow this expertise to be built upon. 

When most children pick out a book to read, they tend to choose the one with the most pictures. This is because children are drawn to vibrant images of art that tell a secondary story.  This is also why children refuse to turn the page. Allowing young individuals to use their imaginations is the key to teaching them how to comprehend any form of text. Pictures provide visual clues, background knowledge and sequencing skills for all different learning levels.

We live in a highly visual culture where technology is used in almost every aspect of life.  Forms of technology, such as iPads and laptops, are used by students every day. Picture books prepare children for these types of mobile devices because they all make reading more accessible. This provides them with more educational benefits, such as effectiveness, concentration and productivity.  

School districts across the country may not encourage the idea of young students exploring their visual imaginations through picture books because they believe that they prevent children from progressing and developing their reading skills. Parents and teachers expect their students or children to be able to read before kindergarten, so they toss out picture books before the children can truly get stuck on them. 

The arguments for and against whether or not illustrated books are beneficial to children both have legitimate substructures. However, there is evidence that stories filled with pictures provide kids with endless opportunities to stay engaged and use imagery skills. If parents and teachers shared these stories with kids of all ages, it could bring the literacy statistic up for future readers.

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Adam Brown
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