Are picture books just for children?

According to Professor Myra Garces-Bacsal picture books are great for developing students’ emotional growth whether they are little or older;

“We often think that picture books are just for children” said Prof Myra of the National Institute of Education’s (NIE’s) early childhood and special needs education academic group. “But these books have potential to engage readers of all ages in a visual and emotional way. They tell stories and people identify with good stories.”

Multicultural and international picture books in particular can play a significant role in helping the young in their social-emotional learning, said Prof Myra. These reading materials go beyond diversity in race and ethnicity, and include differences in religion, ability, gender and identity.

“It can be very emotional sometimes. They will be in tears as they read and share their thoughts.” For instance, a picture book one of her teachers used in class was Desmond And The Very Mean Word, a story of how South African archbishop Desmond Tutu learnt to forgive others who insulted him.

Prof Myra said: “There are so many layers you can unpack from a picture book… More than educating the mind, we have to educate hearts.”

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