Reading with young children: a picture walk

Reading with young children: a picture walk

There are many ways to promote reading skills at home or in the classroom setting. Today, I would like to share with you the process of taking a picture walk…

Selecting quality books

Before taking a picture walk it is a good idea to choose children’s books that have interesting, meaningful, and simple illustrations that capture young children’s attention and will promote conversation about what is happening on each page of the book…

Start with the cover 
Start with the cover of the book and use the illustration on the cover of the book to promote conversation about what the book might be about. “While exploring the cover of the book, use language like “cover” and “spine” to familiarize young children with the features of a book.” (Vanessa Levin)…

Take a picture walk

A picture walk is simply going through the pages of the book before reading it aloud with the children and using the illustrations to determine what is happening on each page of the book…

One goal of a picture walk is to help children draw connections between the words on the page and the illustrations they see on the page.   As young children grow familiar with a book they enjoy, they will use the illustrations to help them recall information about what is happening in the book or what the words say in the book.

A second goal of a picture walk is to help young children gain meaning from the pages of the book. As young children look through the pictures and express their thoughts about what they think is happening in each picture, they begin to build their reading comprehension skills (Vanessa Levin).   Through a picture walk, young children are able to discover that the book goes beyond just words on a page – it is instead a story that has meaning, action, and characters that they can get to know and love…

After we take a picture walk and read a book together, I make sure to keep the book available in our classroom library for the children to read on their own.  Because we have read the book together and explored the pictures together, I find that when my students “read” the books on their own time, they will naturally look through the pictures and talk about what is happening on each page. I love listening to their versions of the story as they take their own picture walks…

I also find that by modeling a picture walk for my students, that they often want to be the “teacher” and lead their friends through a picture walk too…

Starting early

Don’t forget that picture walks can begin even with our youngest learners.  This is my grandson and I taking our own picture walk…

Special Thanks

In preparing for this post, I asked my good friend and fellow blogger Vanessa Levin of Pre-k Pages to share some of her thoughts on this topic as well. Thank you Vanessa for your help and support!

Books from Amazon


Links to grow on

Pre-K Literacy Reading Workshop from Pre-K Pages

Ten Tips for Read Aloud Learning from Teach Mama

Taking a Picture Walk from Hands and Voices

Early Reading Strategies: Picture Walk from 1,2,3 Teach With Me




  • Sheryl @Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds Posted March 18, 2012 3:00 pm

    Love this post! Thank you! I have realized I need to slow down while reading, taking my time so that the children can absorb each picture before turning the page. I, too, make sure to leave the book out afterwards. Very important that they can go back and look at this book, several times! We always start our circle time with everyone choosing a book to look at. This is a special time before the teacher reads a book to the class. Oh, and I just got Not in a Box from Scholastic. I had never heard of it before! Thank you, Deborah and Vanessa.

  • Vanessa @Pre-K Pages Posted March 18, 2012 4:35 pm

    Thanks for including me Deborah, it’s always a pleasure to collaborate with you!

    You’ve hit on the “secret ingredient” when it comes to books and that is making them available to the children after you have read it to them. Providing children with access to the books you read aloud in the classroom gives them motivation to read and allows them to put into practice the reading strategies they have learned.

    I have Not a Box but I will have to get Not a Stick, thanks for sharing this title.

  • Karen Posted March 18, 2012 6:52 pm

    I also love this post, and for that matter, all of your posts. Since finding this blog, I have been inspired by your wonderful ideas!
    I notice a picture here of a book rack on the wall. I love it! I am struggling with space in my classroom at the moment and am wondering if you would consider posting some pics of basic areas and centers in your room or other rooms you know of.
    Thanks for your blog:).

  • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. Posted March 18, 2012 7:20 pm

    I will definitely try and do that very soon!

  • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. Posted March 18, 2012 7:21 pm

    Yes, I agree Vanessa! I find that when the children can read the book after we read it as a group – they are far more interested in it and they like to copy me:) It is super fun to watch them be me!

  • Taylor Posted March 21, 2012 12:51 am

    The new curriculum at our school ‘OWL’ uses this concept and incorporates Picture Walks each week with the book we are focusing on. I have loved it and my kids have responded very well to it. It helps them to have more of a focus while listening to the story!
    Thanks for sharing!!!

  • Hashim Posted June 8, 2012 11:30 am

    Thank you, Lady D. thank you for keeping the likes of us entertained and inspired. Do keep the flag flying.

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