It is evident that pupils love picture books. In many primary schools, pupils always rush to libraries to get their favourite picture books before their colleagues get a hand on them.
Teachers who have witnessed this culture say pupils’ preference for picture books is mainly because of how readers interact with them, especially beginner readers. Teachers also believe that picture books introduce children to the concept of reading better, and make their reading more colourful and fun.
According to Josias Rwambikana, a school teacher at GS Gitarama, reading a picture book paves a way for creative conversations about what’s happening in the story, what the characters are feeling, meanings of words, and most importantly how the story relates to their lives.
On the other hand, experts say picture books strengthen visual and critical thinking skills. Research has shown that picture books help children connect what they observe with how they reason, linking concepts with words.
Diane Uwase, 12, a primary four student says picture books have boosted her interest in reading.
“Books without pictures are difficult to read, sometimes boring and hard to understand. But picture books make our reading experience fun,” she says.
Educationists say picture books remain a gateway for beginner readers, and are ideal for all age groups because of their creative illustrations, simple language and a wide range of themes.
Today, primary schools try to ensure that there are enough story books in form of picture books in their libraries; a task local publishers have also embraced to promote the reading culture among children.