How Picture Books Work


As being an ESL teacher in elementary school, I usually use picture books to motivate students’ interests and help them understand the vocabulary and sentences. I’d never seriously considered that this method of storytelling could connect to cognitive theories and child development. On the cognitive perspective, Bruner (1996) notes that when learners see something happen, as well as read or hear about it, they encode this information both visually and verbally in their long-term memory. According to Sadoski and Paivio’s (2001) concept of dual code, providing both a story and a visual cue provides a cognitive boost and leads to deeper understanding of content. Picture books contextualize concepts, illustrate vocabulary and ideas, and help students make connections, scaffold their learning, and develop reasoning skills.

Picture books are fun, interesting, motivating, because they contain art and text in tandem. Storytelling plays an important part in teaching picture books. Storytelling can ignite the imagination of children, giving them a taste for where books can take them. The excitement of storytelling can make reading and learning fun and can instill a sense of wonder about life and learning. How to choose a story/picture books, how to lead a storytelling and how to design activities related to storytelling is a big challenge for ESL teachers to think about.
There are so many picture books at hand, but how to utilize and weave them into classroom and curriculum needs more information to make it success. The POLT of my chapter will include what learning theory we can learn from the picture books, and how ESL teachers can use these picture books in their classroom according to children’s development stage.