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Books without words important to children's literacy

Books without words important to children's literacy



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LOGAN -- The next time you read to your young child, you should try a picture book without words, too.

New research shows when parents read books without text, they are more engaged with their children. They follow the child's lead and they use more complex words, language and sentences to describe the pictures.

Utah State University professor Sandi Gillam led the research. She says this type of interaction helps increase literacy and vocabulary skills in children, which helps them be more successful later on.

"Children need a strong language background in order to benefit from academic instruction," Gillam said. "So if you don't have a strong language background, it's hard for you to grasp onto the whole reading thing."

She says reading picture books is especially helpful for children with developmental disabilities because when they are interacting over the wordless books, parents naturally respond to their children's attempts to communicate.

"You're basically waiting for opportunities for the child to initiate some kind of utterance, or make a comment or statement about something, and you respond contingently to that utterance," she said. "Whether it's a comic book or a cereal box, it's not about the reading and the print, it's about the interaction between the parent and the child."

But don't toss out the books with sentences, those are still important, too.

E-mail: mrichards@ksl.com

Mary Richards

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