A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

By: Cindy Williams, Third Grade Teacher, Reading Specialist

We all remember some of our very first picture books that were read to us at an early age. One of my favorite books from my childhood is, Are You My Mother? By P. D. Eastman. Following the little bird on the journey to find his mother was captivating and the line drawings depicting the story demanded my attention.

Do we abandon the joy of reading picture books too early in our children’s lives? Could they help our children develop a love for reading?  Are picture books a beneficial tool for students in the middle and upper school grades to promote a deeper understanding of complex ideas?

There is research that suggests we are pushing some of our elementary students into chapter books before they are ready. Picture books have language that is often more sophisticated than some of the first chapter books that children read. Children can enhance their vocabulary, imagery,  and  increase their comprehension of the text by reading illustrated books. Those who read illustrated stories may be more motivated to develop stronger reading skills faster than when a child is only reading chapter books. Picture books are more interesting and exciting to children. The pictures add a better understanding of the action and a better sense of the plot. Even before children begin to read, the picture books allow them to decode the meaning of words as they listen to the story. Picture books appeal to children’s curiosity and sense of wonder, motivating them to read independently.

When students are encouraged to read text-only stories or chapter books prematurely, we may be limiting their joy of reading and slowing their growth as independent readers.

A ”text only” story cannot use the rich vocabulary choices that illustrated stories use due to the fact that some students are still developing their basic vocabulary.

Many middle, upper school, and even college instructors have recognized the importance of using picture books in their lessons. Reading a picture book does more than any other literary format for connecting people with one another.  If you have a difficult idea to express, a picture book is the perfect place to start. The Butterfly, by Patricia Polacco demonstrates the hardships endured during Word War II and Goin’Someplace Special, by Patricia C. McKissack gives a glimpse of bigotry in the 1950’s. Both are difficult topics to discuss, but are easily approached through these picture books.

The Caldecott Medal, awarded each year for outstanding children’s book illustrations, “defines the picture book audience as birth to age 14” (Fingerson & Killeen 32). Many topics tackled by picture book authors are more appropriate for middle school students and are created with the adolescent reader in mind. Their topics are sophisticated, inviting in-depth discussion. Issues that are important and very real to young adolescents—homelessness, crime, environmental problems (Beane 1993)—are easily explored through picture books. The mature content of these books, written specifically for middle school readers, lends itself to opportunities for thoughtful analysis and critical thinking.

It seems that  picture books are worth a thousand words and offer a positive reading experience for everyone.

Is Private or Public Education Right For Your Family?

By: Amy Burchett, Director of Admissions

As parents, we are faced with the weight of making many difficult decisions about what would be best for our children in a variety of different scenarios. Regardless of the nature of the decision at hand, we ultimately have to approach every topic by looking through the lens of “How would this affect MY child”. There is no blanket response to many of these scenarios that would apply equally to all children. Choosing the educational path that would be best for your student and family is no different.


When families begin to choose whether a private or public school option is the right fit for their family, there are many factors to consider. Typically, the first and most notable difference when comparing private and public education is the financial commitment related to private education. The seemingly out of reach tuition for a private school education can eliminate this avenue as a possibility to some families; however, many private schools offer either scholarships or tuition assistance to students who apply and qualify. This can help to bridge the financial gap for some.


For others, a driving factor in selecting a school for their child’s educational journey may revolve around smaller class sizes and the ability for individualized instruction. Any child, in any state, can attend public school. This could, depending on location and demographics, increase student population and thus increase class size. Private schools typically highlight smaller class sizes and lower student-teacher ratios in their classrooms due to their selective admissions processes.


It is also common that a family would desire that their children attend a parochial school. Many families value their religious affiliation and would like for their children to attend a private school that reinforces this through a religious-based curriculum. When considering public education, this would not traditionally be a part of the classroom curriculum.


A few additional considerations could be special education classes and services that may not be offered at a private school, proximity to home, and college preparation and counseling services for high school students.


Remember as with all things, it is important to do your due diligence in completing your research. When touring schools, be sure to bring a list of questions that you want to have answered. Sit down as a family, include your students in the discussions, and weigh the pros and cons of both. Keep in mind, you are choosing the educational setting that would benefit YOUR child most! Be sure to choose the school that you feel would best help your child reach their full potential.

Begin Your Journey.