Prepare and conduct a picture book session professionally

However, it is important that a picture book viewing in a crèche or kindergarten is well prepared if it is to meet the quality criteria for a guided activity. Of course, this does not mean that during free play you have to refuse a child’s request to have a book of his or her choice read to them. But if the picture book is used by you specifically, for example to promote language , you should prepare the picture book viewing accordingly. In the educator training, teachers also often want to see an appropriate offer during their practice visits.

Below you will find the most important answers concerning picture book viewing as a pedagogical offer in crèches and daycare centers.

Which book is suitable for picture book viewing?

Which book is suitable for a picture book viewing depends on many factors, z.B. from

  • the age of the children,
  • the size of the group,
  • the linguistic and cognitive development level of the participating children,
  • your pedagogical objective, etc.

In any case, the publisher’s age recommendation can only provide a rough guide – you know best how a book should be structured in terms of content, visuals and language, so that the children you have selected are neither over- nor under-challenged. It is important that the pictures are as appealing as possible. As a rule of thumb, the younger the children, the more realistic the illustrations should be. Toddlers are not yet familiar with abstract drawings, and overly detailed or complex pictures can quickly become a sensory overload. Also, make sure that the picture book you choose is linguistically appealing and thematically linked to the experiences of your target group. This is the only way to arouse and maintain the children’s interest.

The key points here are

  • expressions appropriate for children,
  • no antiquated expressions,
  • No or few technical and foreign words,
  • Short sentences,
  • A balanced ratio of text and pictures
  • A short, self-contained story that is exciting for the children

In the Kima-Shop you will find many ideas for picture books for the language development of children.

Do I need to do a picture book analysis first?

Of course, you don’t have to do a detailed analysis for every picture book session you plan. However, when a teacher visit is scheduled, this is often expected. A good template for a detailed picture book analysis can be found here. In any case, you should take a close look at the book you want to work on with the children. You can use the following guiding questions as a basis:

  1. What is the topic of the book? Does it address an issue that is relevant to the children?? Is there a connection to their everyday life, their interests or problems??
  2. What is the structure of the book? Is the text in the foreground? Or maybe the pictures are even self-explanatory?
  3. Is the book a "classic" or a new publication?? Have colleagues already had experience with using the book?
  4. Is the language appropriate and understandable for your target group?? When reading aloud, be careful to omit or substitute foreign words? Is it possibly possible to tell the story freely on the basis of the pictures?

How many children should participate in the picture book viewing session?

Basically, a picture book viewing is best suited for a small group setting. The reason is obvious: The more children take part in the activity, the more difficult it will be to keep the volume down and the children’s concentration up. If you want to read the picture book to the whole group, you should allow enough time to show the pictures to all the children. In addition, it is useful if at least one, better two colleagues support you and make sure that the children do not distract each other too much. The ideal group for a picture book viewing is three to eight children.

How do I choose the right children for my offer??

If the picture book viewing has to be planned in writing, you should be able to justify which children should take part in your offer. This is not difficult, however, since the promotion of language skills is usually the main goal of picture book viewing. Therefore, it is obvious to select children for the offer who still have problems in this area. Keep in mind, however, that your group of children should complement each other’s abilities and interests if you want your program to be successful and achieve your goals. It is therefore not a good idea to choose only shy children or those who hardly understand a word of German. If, for example, you are reading a book about dinosaurs and you know that little Max is on fire for this topic, he can take part even if he is linguistically fit and does not need to be motivated to speak. Ideally, he will infect the other children with his enthusiasm and they will benefit from his knowledge.

How long should a picture book viewing session last??

The younger the children you choose for the picture book viewing, the shorter the offering should be. Toddlers under the age of three usually can’t concentrate for more than 10 minutes, and they may have a hard time listening, too. Preschoolers have a longer attention span, but you should still make sure that the story doesn’t go on too long – after all, you want to talk to children about the content as well and end the offering in a meaningful way. Ideally, you should test beforehand how long it will take you to read the book to the end. There may be passages that can be summarized or omitted. As a general rule, if you notice that the children’s attention is waning during the reading, try to involve them more by asking questions about the content, for example. Children who are actively involved in something are more motivated than those who are just being "sprinkled". The latter can also have a soporific effect.

What needs to be taken into account when carrying out picture book reading?

In order for a picture book reading to meet pedagogical demands, a little preparation and practice is needed. Ideally, the offer should not take place in the middle of the group room, but in a reading corner or a "library". This motivates the children and they immediately know that an exciting action is about to take place. Consider whether the children should sit on the floor or on chairs. The former is more comfortable, the latter has the advantage that the children cannot distract each other so quickly. Make sure that the room is well ventilated and that the incidence of light is as good as possible. Like any educational program, a picture book viewing should consist of an introductory phase, an implementation phase, and a conclusion. Here you can resort to songs, games or creative stimuli.

It is important to involve the children in reading – this way you also prevent boredom from arising quickly and concentration from waning. Dialogic reading" uses open-ended questions and stimuli to interact with children and motivate them to participate in the conversation.

How to read a book in an appealing way?

Reading a book aloud in an exciting way can be challenging for beginning teachers, because you can’t be afraid to make a bit of a "clown" of yourself. If you have inhibitions in this respect, you can practice reading aloud without an audience at first. And before you have to show a picture book reading as part of a practice visit, you should have already done this several times anyway and reflected on it with your practice guide. You can also observe your experienced colleagues reading aloud and get tips from them.

In any case, pay attention to the following when reading

  • A targeted emphasis,
  • Pauses between individual sections,
  • an appropriate reading pace,
  • the variation of your voice color and volume (to indicate when different people are speaking in the story),
  • on facial expressions and gestures,
  • the linking of text and image, etc.

It is important to pay attention to the children’s reactions while reading aloud. If you feel that your concentration is slipping, you should react spontaneously and, for example, ask a question or ask the student to describe a picture. It is important to pick up on the children’s spontaneous comments – this can be a good starting point for transferring the message of a story to the realities of your target group’s lives.

You can find more ideas on this topic in this article on the topic "Methodology of picture book viewing". The author himself works in educator training at a vocational college in Bochum, Germany.

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