Children books have a considerable potential as learning tools. In this respect, it is possible to refer to “A Long Piece of String” by William Wonderiska and “Along a long road” by Frank Viva. The authors have created books that are attractive for children at the early age but, at the same time, these books have learning implications and contribute to the development of basic reading and other skills in children. In actuality, children literature has always been an effective learning tool, especially in the elementary school (Huck, 2001).
In fact, “A long piece of string” by William Wonderiska, 1963 is dedicated for Children ages 0-4yrs. The book contains no words, just pictures. The pictures in the book are open ended and they are very attractive for children. They can catch the attention of babies and little children virtually from first days of life. Therefore, “A long piece of string” is a dialogic book.
In fact, this book helps children to develop speaking skills since as they see the picture they try to convey their feedback to their parents or just try to talk to characters depicted in the pictures. Children focus on naming objects that helps them to develop their identification skills, especially in infants. The book helps children to focus on specific parts of the object, for instance, the string is connected to the whale’s “tail” that helps children to learn what the tail is. Following the string children can explore through objects, while parents can perform the role of guides, who help children to explore through objects and learn them.
At the same time, this book develops story narrative skills in children by creating their own stories. Children are encouraged to create their own stories, while reading the book. In such a way, the book stimulates their creative thinking and, thus, contributes to the learning of children. The creativity increases the interest of students to learning, while learning occurs in the natural way through the natural curiosity of children.
In addition, “A long piece of string” helps to develop alphabetical/phonological awareness because each object connected to the string stands for each alphabet. The proper order in which the alphabet is placed helps children to increase their alphabetical and phonological awareness but again the assistance of parents is needed.
The use of colours is also very important because it facilitates the perception of pictures by children. The white background, with only red pictures connected to a long black string is a simple but effective choice of colors because they are bright and can help children to perceive objects accurately. The color choice isolates the picture without any other distractions around. So children are able to focus on the picture more. Therefore, the book is not over stimulating with a lot of pictures and colours in the background. Pictures are very visible and easy to perceive for children.
At the same time, the book is very original since there are no stereotypical ideas. The method of following the string helps children to develop their reading skills and understanding. As everything is connected, it is very simple for little children to understand the content of the book.
In this regard, “Along a long road” by Frank Viva has both similarities and differences. Unlike “A long piece of string”, “Along along road” is destined for children at the age of 18 months – 5yrs. Another difference is the presence of text. At the same time, the book uses just sufficient text to convey key ideas and to back up pictures. There are just a few words that match the picture. Such a combination of the text and pictures develops text awareness.
Just like the previous book involves following the string, “Along a long road” involves following the road making children exploring through a journey. The reader is riding a bike along a long road that increases the interest of children in reading and develops their exploration activities and stimulates their creativity.
Furthermore, the book helps children to learning directions given throughout the book, such as “over the bridge”, “in the tunnel” and others. The use of such textual messages makes the book more effective for learning children at the age 3-5 but, at the same time, this makes this book quite limited to use for children from first days of life. Some pictures in the background help children to learn how things around work together in the world. Children identify different objects.
Similarly to William Wonderiska, Frank Viva uses the limited colour use throughout the book, including yellow, black, white and red. In such a way, the use of the limited colours allows children to focus their attention on specific objects singled out by the specific colour.
Remarkably both books were published just a couple of years ago. Therefore, they take into consideration the latest advancements in the field of children’s education, psychology and other important issues that make both books valuable learning tools.
At the same time, “Along a long road” introduced more complex concepts. For instance, the illustrations show the speed of the cyclist by the way his body is position in the bike. Children will be able to recognize the speed when as they follow the cyclist. On his way there are other things like a pregnant woman in a store and many others. In such a way, the book shows how things are connected. The connection of objects within the book is the trend that is present in both books.
In fact, both books have the same shape that reinforces using books left to right. Such a shape of both books helps to develop early literacy in children. At the same time, both books promote vocabulary and expressive language for young children. Both books contain useful vocabulary, which is helpful for literacy, and expressive language, which is helpful for self regulation-emotional regulation. Therefore, children can use both books to develop their basic skills and abilities. More important, books are interesting for small children and stimulate their learning and cognitive development.
Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is important to place emphasis on the fact that both books, “A Long Piece of String” by William Wonderiska and “Along a long road” by Frank Viva are similar, to a significant extent. In this regard, Wonderiska uses pictures solely, while Viva introduces the text to back up pictures. This is why Wonderiska’s book is comprehensible and attractive for children from first days of life, while Viva’s book implies the guidance and assistance from the part of parents, who can read and help children to understand the content of the book. Nevertheless, both books stimulate the development of learning in children.
Huck, C. (2001). Children’s Literature in the Elementary School, 7th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Wonderiska, W. (2011). A Long Piece of String. New York: New Publishers.
Viva, F. (2010). Along a long road. New York: Routledge.