Make the Most Out of Read-Aloud Picture Books

Use picture books to boost reading comprehension and skills!

Feb 14, 2022



Make the Most Out of Read-Aloud Picture Books

Feb 14, 2022

Read-aloud picture books offer the building blocks for reading comprehension and overall literacy skills. Preschoolers are often enamored with colorful illustrations or photos as they explore and get to know relatable characters, engaging plots, and memorable adventures as they practice reading.

However, there is more to the process of sharpening their reading skills than just going through these beloved home library staples once. 

Michele Johnson, a kindergarten teacher in Florida, offers the following suggestions on how to make the most of read-aloud picture books for upper elementary at home. 

For more quick tips and book recommendations, sign up for our Scholastic Parents newsletter!

You'll also get 10% off your first order at the Scholastic Store Online.

1. Repetition Is Key

When it comes to reading the best read-aloud picture books, exploring them multiple times is key for early comprehension and information retention. 

“Read books more than once!” says Johnson. “Read for enjoyment and read to learn new things about the characters, problem, and solution.” 

Set aside a few of your child’s favorite chosen books for reading and go over the books a few times a week. Make a schedule for reading with your child so that they look forward to reading these choices. 

“A book can be reread and looked through so many lenses,” says Johnson. “Read for enjoyment! Then the next time you read, focus on how the character persevered or how the character could have made a better choice when solving a problem.”

2. Ask Questions

As you’re reading together, remember to ask your child questions about the book frequently to engage them in what you’re reading. 

“Stop and check in for understanding — after reading a portion, have your child retell what has happened in the story,” says Johnson. “Who are the characters? How can you describe the character? Where is the story happening? Can this happen in real life? How did the character solve their problem?”

These questions will help your child’s imagination flow, will enhance their understanding of the material, and will help them relate to the characters and situations within the book. 

3. Make Observations Together

Asking questions not only encourages your child to make observations, but also to make realizations about the story, characters, plot, and more within the read-aloud books on their own, which will help them connect more to the read-aloud books in general. 

“Always take the opportunity to have your child connect to the characters,” says Johnson. “You can say, ‘Wow! That character was so brave — can you think of a time when you were brave?’ Or leave it open ended with, ‘How are you like a character in this book? How are you not like the character?’”

These are higher-level thinking questions, which encourage the use of critical thinking and imagination. Parents can also help their preschoolers along by providing them with examples throughout reading, encouraging them to make note of things they notice on their own.  

4. Actually Study the Pictures

It’s also important to remember that the pictures themselves offer a lot of information that can be useful towards reading comprehension. 

“Parents can think aloud and point out pictures if a child isn't grasping the main idea or important parts of the story,” says Johnson. “Of course, it isn't necessary to do this on every page, because you want your child to listen and comprehend what is happening. When you try to do too much with one book, the story gets lost at times.”

Part of the magic of the best read aloud books lies in the fact that while you read the text, the pictures or photographs offer even more information to be gathered and observed to provide clarity, and the full story comes together.

Encourage a love of reading with help from our guide, which includes book recommendations by interest, tips for getting your child to read for fun, and much more.

Shop popular picture books below to get started! You can find all books and activities at The Scholastic Store.

Books & Reading
Age 8
Age 7
Age 6
Age 5
Age 4
Age 3