Don’t Cover The Pictures When A Child Is Learning To Read

This is the time in Kindergarten when many children are experimenting with books with simple text. They are looking for any words that they know, they are looking for a predictable pattern in the text and they are looking at the pictures for help. Many parents believe that it is cheating if their child looks at the picture; however this is just one of the tools that your child will use to help him/her decode the text on a page.  Children want to learn to read and want to be able to tell you that they can read.  This often involves a time where your child ‘reads’ memorized words in a story that you have read and re-read, or where your child might know one word, look at the picture, and then guess at the rest of the sentence. Parents believe that if they cover the picture it will force their child to actually take a closer look at the words and figure it all out. Actually, covering of the picture will only cause increased anxiety on the part of the early reader.  Learning to read is such a long, involved, developmental process that I can only say, the pictures are there to help not hinder the beginning reader. A place to start is with simple books with very simple text so that your child is confident about what to do.  He/she should be able to:

  • Find the title
  • Tell you  how many words are in the title
  • Show you where to start on every page (and when asked if your child points to the picture, he/she is not ready for the reading process yet as he/she does not realize that the print contains the information)
  • Point to and touch each and every word on every page even if it means repeating the words back after you read them first(learning to distinguish between letters and words is another step in the developmental process needed to be able to read)
  • If there are 2 lines of text on a page does your child know to take his/her finger and bring it back to the beginning of the second line of print (educators call this return sweep)

As this confidence grows, you will see an increase in your child’s decoding skills and as a young child becomes more of a reader they will rely less on the picture for help reading and be able to enjoy the picture for what it is, a beautiful illustration.

A site that lists many free printable books for emergent readers:


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Filed under Beginning Readers, First Grade, Improving Reading Skills, Kindergarten, Language Arts, Reading

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