Picture books are usually only thirty-two pages long, yet those thirty-two pages are the key to teaching visual literacy. While reading with your child, asking questions about what is in the book is the best way to teach the child to analyze and think about what is in the picture, what is missing from the picture, and how the picture makes them feel. By answering your questions, the child is learning to make connections, grasp the lesson being taught, learn to think deeper, and verbalize their thoughts. The child is learning the ability to interpret and use images correctly.
As children pass through school, their visual literacy will expand to encompass being able to interpret slide presentations, illustrations, photographs, sketches, models, charts, film clips, graphs or diagrams visuals, and a host of other types. They will become proficient at being able to question and analyze literal and inferred meanings and be able to use images to communicate meaning. Visual literacy is the key concept in art and design but also has far wider implications in daily life.
Visual literacy improves a student’s creativity, critical thinking, educational achievement, and empathy toward others. It is essential to being able to understand complex information, critical thinking, and effective communication. Just remember, it all begins with those picture books!