Early literacy exposure is important to the development of reading appreciation in young children. With most children grasping key concepts and influences within the first five years of life, parents are often on a never ending quest to expose their children to a significant number of learning experiences.
In terms of literary pieces, children’s books offer a variety of opportunities for exposure in print and in pictures. For many children, the engaging children’s stories, supported by colorful photographs, provide key opportunities for learning and playing. As parents, there is very little concern when we choose age appropriate books as almost all provide some learning experience.
For some children, however, the use of books must be carefully monitored. While healthy children can respond appropriately to stories of childhood illness, injury and disease, there are some children that will not respond well to these types of story lines. In contrast, and within medical settings, these same books may provide usefulness in conveying message in age-appropriate language.
Using picture books, many healthcare professionals find they are better able to communicate the information about a particular illness to a young child. Offering information about the nature of the disease or injury, with treatment and symptoms, is the underlying focus of many of these child oriented materials. Because even very young children need to understand, to some extent, their own health issues, child health advocates strongly encourage picture books to engage children in these types of conversations and communications.
If your healthcare provider is considering a picture book as a method for conveying health information to your child, it is important that you are familiar with this reading material before your child is presented with it. Ask your doctor or your doctor’s nurse to share the material with you in advance of the presentation to your child. With a pre-screening, you can become better equipped to manage questions and issues of concern that may arise following a story telling from one of these age-appropriate, medically-based pictorial readings.
As your child struggles with illness, injury or disease, it is important to understand the level of anxiety and fear a child may feel. To offset the emotional turmoil within a child, many child health professionals will turn to picture books as a method to communicate with young children who may not be able to fully understand their health condition otherwise. With proper preparation, both you and your child’s pediatrician can provide not only the guidance and care to your child, but also the age-appropriate information they need to manage their own internal emotions with regard to their pediatric health condition.