Picture Walks (preview): Everything You Need to Know

A pre-reading process, during which the reader surfs through the pictures attached to a story, then guesses what they think is being communicated via the story. With a picture walk, curiosity is stimulated, and there is a better sense of direction throughout the reading process.

Picture walks can help a reader connect the story’s visual images to his own experiences and draw upon his prior knowledge. This establishes the purpose of reading and lets the reader predict what might happen in the story. As he makes connections, predictions, and sets the purpose, comprehension of the story is improved.

During a picture walk, a reader focuses on the illustrations or photographs on the book’s front and back covers and even throughout the story. An adult (parent or teacher) can ask him to describe what he notices in the pictures. These are typically WH questions (what, who, why, when, where, and how) related to the images. Some examples are:

·         Who’s this?

·         What is going on here?

·         When (or where) is this story taking place?

·         Why does the character look so excited?

·         How do you think the story will end?

Asking a lot of questions related to each picture that the reader sees will engage his imagination and encourage his active participation. Such questions will also persuade the reader to make a prediction of what he thinks the story will be about or how it will progress.

A picture walk with a parent could involve these steps:

·         Flipping through the pages of the book together.

·         Identifying the setting, characters, conflict, and solutions.

·         Discussing the book’s cover and the title.

·         Making predictions by activating prior knowledge and experience about the subject.

·         Getting excited about the story.

It’s interesting to note how a picture walk helps the reader get in the right mindset and become more familiar with and interested in the book before he actively starts reading the text. Apart from improving comprehension, picture walks also increase a reader’s engagement with the story and encourage him to ask questions. They’ll even serve as a preview for key concepts and vocabulary that will make the adult’s read-aloud session more accessible. Additionally, picture walks offer a better idea of what the book will be about and teach how pictures can be used as clues to comprehend what unfamiliar words might mean or what’ll happen in the story.

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