A picture’s worth a thousand words

This week we have a post from Sue Piper. Sue’s been volunteering with Hands Up for two months now and does a wonderful Facebook live storytelling session for younger kids at 10 am Palestine time every Wednesday. Over to you Sue!
A picture’s worth a thousand words…….or so the saying goes.
There are many reasons why I love using pictures to tell stories to my students or as a volunteer for the Hands Up Project. A picture has the ability to convey emotion, mood, narrative, ideas and messages-all of which are important elements of storytelling. Pictures can offer information, set the tone, highlight certain characters and introduce themes.
Sometimes just a single picture can capture the essence of a story, or a series of pictures can reinforce structure and a more detailed storyline. Pictures can leave the listener  imagining what is going on behind the image and thinking in context.
Visual images can help listeners to go deeper into a story and help them understand a plot  much better. As a primary school teacher for twenty five years I was always fascinated by the process of how children learnt to read. Parents would constantly enquire, “Shall I cover up the pictures?” “Won’t the pictures just confuse my child?” or “Is my child really reading if he looks at the pictures?” In the early years of reading or language acquisition, illustrations draw children into stories as they begin to make up their own. Then the magic begins as they start making connections between the image and the words on the paper.
As a child I remember pouring over the pictures in my Ladybird books. I didn’t care that I couldn’t read every word-I was in my own world with the varied colourful illustrations that brought the books alive.
I can see how powerful telling stories without pictures can be, as demonstrated by the wonderful professional storytellers on the Hands Up Project page. However, for me, using visual aids provides stimulus, support and scaffolding to a story as well as all being part of the fun!

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