Picture books play a
vital role in the early years setting, they offer so much to children from such
a young age regarding development of early learning in literacy and numeracy.
From helping encourage reading to be a fun activity that the child enjoys and
looks forward to, reading also helps the child to relax all the while
developing everyday life skills such as communication, critical and cognitive thinking.
While reading or being read to the children become aware of basic phonics as
discussed by Koralek and Collins “Many children develop phonemic awareness naturally, over time.  Simple activities such as frequent readings
of familiar and favourite stories, poems, and rhymes can help children develop
phonemic awareness”. (Koralek
and Collins, 2018). The
way story books are told often encourage active participation if role play is combined
along with the story this allows the children to express their creativity and
imagination. Children ought to be read story books from a very young age and
should be continued to be read to until independent or experienced enough to
read for themselves.  As stated by Burns
et al. “Knowledge about
and love for literacy can develop only through experience. Children should own
books, should have access to books in their preschool and primary classroom,
should be read to often, and should see others reading and writing” (1999).

 Children learn so much by being read to and
listening to stories, they also learn so much by just hearing the people around
them have conversations, they pick up early literacy, numeracy and phonics just
by hearing things said by the people around them and things on the television
and things such as music radio. As said by Anning and Edwards “Children learn much of their
literacy before school from opportunities to engage with functional literacy in
everyday situations- recognizing well-known sounds, signs and symbols as well
as significant words and numbers from everyday life.” (2006, pg 88).  Children’s early literacy and numeracy
development has begun before they can even read, write or even speak. That’s
why it is so important to support their early development by continuing to speak
to them and read to them.

The story book “The
butterfly and the spider” main purposes was to be an interactive book with many
different textures that the child could feel and touch while reading and
listening to story helping them feel more engaged with the book and the
characters and that children could enjoy while taking a positive message about
friendship from it and being able to apply it to their everyday life, when the
spider and the butterfly become friends it shows them it doesn’t matter who you
are or what you look like you will always find a friend and situations in a
school and home setting.   In addition to
those aims the story book “The butterfly and the spider” also aimed to support
the development of early literacy and numeracy. According to the welsh
government Literacy and numeracy framework in reception regarding literacy children
should be able to “read
simple captions and texts recognising high-frequency words” (WAG,2015). The
picture book contained easy simple sentences that the child could read along to
such as “Sammy was so happy.” and “He loved his new friends.” Being able to
read along with the book even if it is just a few short sentences helps the
children engage in the book and helps them feel more confident with reading and
it helps them to be encouraged to continue reading.  The literacy and numeracy frame work also say
under the reading across the curriculum strand that while reading books
children should be able to “make
meaning from visual features of the text, e.g. illustrations, photographs,
diagrams and charts” (WAG, 2015). The story book “the butterfly and the
spider” has illustrations on every page backing up what is happening in the
story. For example, on page nine the butterfly gets trapped in a spider web and
the pictures on the page are the butterfly in the spider in the spider web.
With the addition of illustrations that show what is happening along with the
story the children can look at the pictures and grasp what is happening even
without reading the book and they can try and guess what is going to happen
next this aids in the development of early imagination, creativity and cognitive
thinking skills. While in a placement setting the story book “The butterfly and
the spider” was read to a small group of children, these children enjoyed
listening to this story book and were very vocal about what they thought was
going to happen next in the book when the butterfly got stuck in the spider web
they asked questions and could not wait for the page to be turned over even
before all the words on the page had been read. The children were fully
invested in the story and had observed the pictures and were engaged with the
characters. The UK government stated that “children listen attentively in a range of situations.
They listen to stories, accurately anticipating key events and respond to what
they hear with relevant comments, questions or actions” (UK GOV,2017).
This was shown attentively during the reading of this story book in the
classroom with the group of children.

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The story book the
“Spider and the butterfly” also support early numeracy, on page eleven there is
an opportunity for the children reading and listening to the story book to
count the spiders eight legs. The legs are labelled from one to eight beside
the end of the leg and they have the spelling of the number beside that to help
the children began to learn how to spell and recognise the numbers one to
eight. The welsh government states that children should be able to “count reliably up to ten
objects” (WAG, 2015). The story book supports this aspect of early
numeracy for counting to eight objects. While the story book was being read the
children in the placement setting, the children counted the legs of the spider
with great enthusiasm independently pointing to each leg as the counted, then
the children covered the numbers and only read the words out, when they could
read the words out it gave them a sense of achievement and when they read the
book independently with class mates they covered the numbers and read the words
out loud.

The story book “The
butterfly and the spider” is a very interactive book its bright colours and
many textures encourage children to read it frequently. The moral of the story
is about friendship, to see if the children had understood the whole story line
they were encouraged to draw a picture of the story and their favourite part of
it, all the children drew pictures of the butterfly and the spider being
friends this picture drawing session is supporting early literacy under
developing and presenting information and ideas the WAG stated “learners should be able to show
that they have listened to others, e.g. by drawing a picture”(WAG, 2015).

 

Although the picture book
“The butterfly and the spider” has many strengths it also has a few amounts of
weaknesses that need to be re-evaluated, the lack of support for early numeracy
development is one of them. Although there is some support of early numeracy
development regarding the counting of the spider’s legs the story book could
have been further developed in numeracy giving the children more opportunities
for learning early numeracy such as time, temperature or directional
instructions such as up, down left and right. These would help assist children
learn numeracy in an everyday classroom environment. Another problem that the
book could have been improved in is that there in minimal to no dialogue
between the main characters the butterfly and the spider if dialogue was added
the children could have been assigned to a character and read the specific
parts out, this would help with the would feeling more included and engaged
with the story it would also improve their confidence when it comes to independent
reading and storytelling. There also could have been some rhythm and rhyme this
would assistance the book into flowing easily and add an upbeat sense of tone
to the telling of the story. Having more alliteration would also help assist the
children to focus their attention on a particular part of the sentence that the
author wants to emphasise and add some dramatization to.

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