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Empowering Reluctant Readers to Discover the Joy of Books - The Power of the Picture Book

Picture books have the power to enrapture children. To feed their imaginations and ignite their creativity. All while momentarily transporting them to distant worlds.

Whether fiction or non-fiction, a picture book can be powerful, educate, instil morals, and send positive messages all while introducing friendly, loveable, inspiring characters children will adore.

Equally, a villain in a story can encourage empathy. As children cheer on the underdog, willing them to overcome their villainous rival, they begin to care for and feel a need to read on as they see their new cherished character blossom and overcome adversity.

The power of the picture book, however, is not solely in whether our children like or dislike a character. It is not just in which distant land their next picture book will transport them. It is far more.

Younger children will follow the story visually while being read to. They will listen as the reader’s voice laments the story, their voice rising and falling as excitement and tensions build.

By default, we are also encouraging early communication and language skills. As we read to our children, they can become enthralled by the characters and their adventures, which develops intrigue, excitement, concern, and compassion. They will want to ask questions and communicate their thoughts and hopes.

Initially, younger children will point with their fingers or make a facial expression. But, as they develop, they will begin to chat about the story and offer their insight as to where they think the story might be going.

As they further develop, they will start to follow the words. It might be with a pointed finger or through asking questions, but no matter their method, they are learning the building blocks to reading, sentence structure and, in turn, the building blocks to writing. All while bonds are being built, and early childhood development encouraged.

At the same time, picture books can aid older or reluctant readers who need extra encouragement. Not too long, and with visual storytelling through illustrations, a picture book can help keep a child’s attention. And seeing a story through to its conclusion can be powerful for those whose attention spans may wander.

Both reading and writing are essential elements to our children’s future learning, and picture books are one of the first crucial rungs in their developmental ladder.

And so, as picture books come in many guises, this month, the Kids Carousel is reviewing a newly released picture book that seamlessly combines exquisite illustrations, educational content, and eloquent storytelling.

Protecting the Planet: Emperor Of The Ice

Written by Nicola Davies

Illustrated by Catherine Rayner

Published by Walker Books, January 2023

For ages 5 to 7 years

As Autumn approaches Antarctica, the Emperor penguins gather. In their masses, they prepare for the breeding season in colonies so large they are seen from space. For years they have returned to Halley Bay with its ice sheets so perfect it’s the ideal place to find a mate, breed and raise a chick. As the months pass, the emperors care for their eggs and chicks while the empresses take to the ocean. Swimming for weeks at a time, they return with full bellies. But climate change means that Halley Bay is no longer a haven for the penguins to gather. They must find a new breeding ground. And they can only hope they will remain safe and survive in the grips of climate change.

Emperor of the Ice is a powerful, informative, and eloquently told tale of the struggle Emperor penguins endure in today’s ever-changing climate. It is a story that informs our little ones on the plight of the penguins while at the same time educating them on the changes happening to our planet and how these changes are affecting the penguin’s movements, breeding areas and colonies.

The story unfolds with stunning illustrations. Each page turned is as mesmerising as the last and is sure to capture a child’s attention as they delve deeper into the ever-changing face of Antarctica and the world of the Emperor penguins.

The rear pages of the book discuss further the changes in the climate, the effects this change is having on the penguins and what we, as humans, can do to protect the planet in the future.

It is evident from Nicola’s storytelling that she has a knack for communicating with young children, and I very much hope there are more books to follow.

I will be gifting my copy to my youngest, a primary school teacher, as this is a story that should be in every classroom.

My only niggle is that it is only available in hardback, making it a bit more expensive in the current climate as it retails at £12.99. However, I do feel that the messages conveyed, the illustrations, and Nicola’s voice culminate in making this picture book worth every penny.


By Pauline Tait, Award-Winning Children’s Author, Romantic Suspense Novelist and Writing Mentor.


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