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Take a Picture Walk

Picture walks are a "stroll through a book" that you and your child can take together.  They help your child develop important early literacy skills in order to be more prepared to learn to read. Take a walk today!

​What is a picture walk?

A picture walk is a conversation around a picture book, where you and your child - as the "walkers" - decide on the narrative together. It may or may not have a connection to the book's actual text. It's an adventure that will help develop important early literacy skills. Take a walk today.

What you'll need:

A picture book
A preschool child
An active imagination

How do we go on a picture walk?

  • Get a good picture book that is appropriate for your child. Books with detailed illustrations and a lot of color will always get them interested. See our lists on this page for great suggestions.
  •  Point out the cover of the book and talk about what it shows. Give your child opportunities to talk about what they see. Ask them questions about what they see.
  • Start turning through each page without reading one single word. Have your child explore and observe what they see in the pictures. This is a slow "walk" so allow time for your child to point out things they like and ask questions about things they don't know. Use the five "W" and one "H" question words (who,what, when, where, why and how) to stimulate a discussion of the story. Examples: "What is happening on this page? Where do you think they are going?" 
  • Introduce or explain words and what they mean. Repeat what the child says using different words. Add a bit more information to what the child says. Help your child make connections to past experiences and future events. Ask your child, for example, "How did you feel when. . .?" "How would you feel if . . . ?" Continue to ask questions that will spark some new vocabulary and concepts.
  • Once you get to the end of the story and have looked at each picture, have your child recall and think about what they saw. Ask "What do you think this story will be about?" (making predictions) "Can you tell me about your favorite picture? Why is that your favorite picture?" (making connections) "What is the character doing in this picture?" (analyzing characters) "Where are the characters at in this story?" (setting) "Why did the character do that?" These are basic questions. The types of questions you ask will depend on the story you read.

For the toddlers and young preschoolers, you may start out by asking the child to point to things as you identify them. You might begin by asking yes or no questions. You may draw attention to shapes, colors and animals for those children learning about them.

You may use several picture books during your "stroll" or repeat the same picture book. Remember, each walk can bring a different story!

Note: An added activity for older children might be to read through the story once a picture walk is completed. This way, the child can compare what they thought the illustrations were conveying and what the book is actually about.

​Why should we do a picture walk?Image of mother reading a book with her toddler daughter.

  • Children are more interested in the story when they participate.
  • Children learn more words when talking with an adult.
  • Children take turns while having a conversation around the book and develop narrative skills as they talk about what they see.
  • Children use pictures to infer meaning and understand the story.
  • Stories come alive when children relate it to their own lives.
  • As children learn more vocabulary and information, they will be better able to understand what they read.
  • Children use their imaginations.
  • Children learn how a story works; it has a beginning, a middle, and an end.

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