Children enjoy looking at pictures in books because they can decode the meaning of the words. These pictures can also help reinforce story plotlines and details. As a result, illustrated books can increase a child’s reading comprehension and attention span. Illustrations can also be a powerful tool for promoting parent expressiveness. But how effective are illustrated books in learning? Let’s look at some examples.
Impact of illustrations on reading comprehension
Illustrations have long been used to assist beginning readers in decoding unfamiliar words, but their benefits to comprehension are often overlooked as holistic learning materials. Illustrations allow children to make educated guesses about foreign words by providing context. For example, children can think about a picture or look at the beginning letters of words to make connections. Making predictions while reading also develops strong comprehension skills, and it promotes students’ attention to details and how to sequence a plot.
Some researchers have also argued that combining text with illustrations enhances reading comprehension. For example, one study has shown that high-level readers with pictures are more likely to improve students’ reading comprehension than low-level texts without illustrations. This observation is not yet fully understood, but some researchers believe that visuals enhance the effects of text. Further, research has shown that the repetition effect mediates the impact of visuals on reading comprehension.
Effects of illustrations on attention
Several studies have suggested that pictures accompanying printed text may cause distractions and impair reading comprehension. However, this conclusion is not definitive. For example, some researchers have suggested that when illustrations accompany the text, more working memory resources are diverted from the text to process the pictures, leaving less time for processing the written text. Therefore, it is not clear if extraneous illustrations undermine reading comprehension. To determine whether graphics improve or impair attention, we need to examine these claims in children.
Some researchers have suggested that illustrations can hinder reading comprehension and decoding. For example, Torcasio and Sweller have suggested that illustrations impair children’s decoding and reading comprehension. On the other hand, Rose observed that students with learning disabilities scored higher on comprehension tests when reading passages that were not illustrated. Similarly, Goldstein and Underwood compared different styles of illustrations in reading materials. They noted the various assumptions made by designers of reading schemes and the lack of research on the impact of images.
Effects of extraneous illustrations on learning
Extraneous illustrations may distract readers from reading the text, and their attention can be interrupted by the images. The goal of this study was to determine whether extraneous graphics affect the reading experience of young readers and improve their comprehension skills. The researchers studied 60 first and second-grade students in the Pittsburgh area who read commercially available illustrated books. The books were designed for this age group and were carefully selected by experts.
One study examined the impact of illustrations on children’s reading comprehension and found that pictures interfere with the ability of boys to draw inferences. Children with poor reading skills rely heavily on images to make sense of texts and may decode text perfectly but not understand its story. This could explain why many children find illustrated books challenging to read. Further, children who have trouble understanding text and drawing inferences cannot understand the message of a story and may even be misled by the illustrations.
Effects of illustrations on parent expressiveness
The effects of illustrated books on parent expressiveness were not significant, but the presence of illustrations did increase emotional expression. However, the authors note that the socioeconomic status of the sample may influence their study. They also note that pre-emergent reading behaviors differ among children. The study also indicated that parents’ expressions of emotion were higher when they read stories with illustrations than those who read the same levels without graphics.
These findings are consistent with previous research. The book’s illustrations induced children and parents to be more engaged and interactive during story reading. They also predicted better children’s long-term literacy outcomes, including vocabulary and story comprehension skills. In addition, hood et al. found that illustrated books enhanced parent expressiveness by eliciting more discussion among parents and children than narrative-based books. Their findings also suggest that the presence of illustrations can improve children’s comprehension of story events.