Religious education begins at home and it is never too early to start your child on the path of Catholic learning. One great way to introduce him or her to the faith is through picture books. When you sit down and read a book with your child, not only will you be helping him or her to understand Catholic Identity, but you’ll also be fostering the reading skills that your child needs in order to be successful in school and beyond.
Reading is Fundamental (RIF), the nation's largest children’s literacy nonprofit organization, provides reasons why picture books are effective:
- Kids love illustrations, especially colorful ones, so books with rich graphics grab their interest.
- Pictures engage imagination and allow children to make connections between what they see and their own lives.
- Images help children connect words to meanings. RIF explains, “Pictures can help increase vocabulary, an important building block for reading. Books can help young children identify colors, shapes, numbers, and letters, as well as names of people, places, animals, and everyday objects.”
It’s really no secret that picture books help develop cognitive skills, but think about all of the social and emotional rewards that result from reading them with your child:
- You will instill a love of reading. Some children are born with a passion for reading, but others need a little encouragement. When you enthusiastically read with your child, you become a role model for the act itself and the enjoyment of it.
- You will instill the beliefs of the Catholic faith. As we mentioned above, Catholic education begins at home, and your child will look to you for guidance on how to live a virtuous life. However, some aspects and beliefs inherent in Catholicism may be difficult for a young child to understand. But, when you teach them through picture books, your child can make connections to the stories on many different levels.
- You’ll be spending quality time together. It is always quality time when you are learning about faith; pair that with reading about faith, and you’ll have the best of both worlds.
- Partner with parents to support students in their learning and in their search for knowledge, meaning, and truth
- Create a Catholic climate that contributes to the formation of students as active participants in the parish community
There are plenty of people at your parish or school who can recommend wonderful Catholic picture books, and we’ve also included some resources below: