The Magic of Picture Books in a Chinese Immersion Class (II) Why Revisit One Single Picture Book?

“Can we do it again?” As Miss Jialu turned the picture book 《小熊哭了》(Little Bear Cried) to the last page, Piya – a four-year-old girl who has been in our immersion class for 5 months asked. As a matter of fact, this is not the first time for this group of children being exposed to the story. Children usually do not get bored with repetitive read-alouds of the same book. That is because every time they approach it, their relationship with the book is one step forward.

Rebekah, a researcher in the field of children’s literacy development found that when children approached picture books in a new language, they first relied heavily on pantomime, excited vocalization and sound effects to get meanings (Rebekah, 2008). Step by step, they transited from merely trying to understand the book to interact with the book. They may interact with the book through physical movements (e.g. Children may mimic what is happening in the book.), or make comments on the book (e.g. Children may tell their peers about their thoughts during read aloud). Every revisit of the book constitutes such a development procedure. As teachers, we ensure that children get enough opportunities to approach the same book through different ways.

As for Piya, when she asked for repeating the book, Miss Meggie simply said: “Piya来讲好不好?(Piya, can you tell us the story?)” As a result, with the help from teachers, Piya got the book, and told the story to her peers in Chinese.

Rebekah, F (1998). Let’s Do It Again, Language Arts, Vol. 75, No. 3

-Chinese with Meggie Language School, Austin, Texas

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