For Young Children, Pictures in Storybooks Are Rarely Worth a Thousand Words


  • Judith A. Schickedanz,

  • Molly F. Collins


This article focuses on young children's misinterpretations of storybook illustrations. Examples of misinterpretations drawn from preschool classrooms are presented and analyzed to explain four kinds of confusion that are typically involved. Based on these analyses, the authors argue that young children are capable of the reasoning required to understand storybook illustrations, but need specific information and guidance to reason well in these complex contexts. The authors present strategies that teachers in preschool, kindergarten, and first grade can use to provide children with support. These strategies include explaining to children how illustrations work, bringing text information to children's attention, helping children use or acquire relevant background knowledge, and modeling the strategic use of personal experiences and background knowledge.