Watch the PEPELT webinar for the British Council ‘Picturebooks in European Primary English Language Teaching‘. Discover a brief history of using picturebooks in Primary English Language Teaching and gain a deeper understanding

This webinar provides a brief history of using picturebooks in Primary English Language Teaching and participants will gain a deeper understanding of:

  • What a picturebook is and its potential for the PELT classroom
  • How to select and use picturebooks
  • How materials can be developed around picturebooks to provide children with exposure to rich authentic language and -promote a holistic approach to teaching and learning


General Guidelines for teaching with picturebooks:

  • Once you have selected a picturebook, familiarize yourself with its covers, the endpapers, title page and other peritexual* parts, as well as the verbal and visual text. 
  • Rehearse reading the picturebook aloud several times, practice holding the book and turning the pages and how you will make reference to the peritext.
  • Decide how you will seat the children in your class so they can all hear and see you and the picturebook illustrations.  
  • Decide which language you will pre-teach before reading the picturebook aloud. 
  • Decide which language you will let the children use to make inferences with the support of the illustrations (eg English or their common classroom language – Portuguese in Portugal; French in France; Dutch in the Netherlands, Polish in Poland)
  • Decide if you are sharing this picturebook with a specific language learning objective which might be picked up in follow-up activities, or whether you want children to sit back and enjoy the literary experience. 
  • Provide a context for the picturebook by relating it to relevant aspects of the children’s own lives.
  • Explain to children how you are going to use the picturebook and how it will contribute to their English learning.  
  • Make sure children understand whether you are reading the picturebook aloud for pleasure or whether you are using it for a specific language learning objective.  If the latter, inform children of the learning outcomes so they understand that their work is leading somewhere purposeful.  This will make their work more meaningful and motivating. 
  • As you read the picturebook, encourage children to make predictions about what will happen next, based on the illustrations or by asking questions. 
  • After sharing the picturebook, ask children to give their personal response to it, and to review and evaluate their learning and participation.
  • Children enjoy listening to stories several times, so do not be afraid to repeat the shared reading of the picturebook, as this increases opportunities for exposure to the language and gives children more time to work out the meaning and have it confirmed.
  • Consider how the children are going to organize and store any work they produce related to the picturebook.
  • Consider how you can display children’s work.
  • Consider what happens to the picturebook when you have finished.  Will you put it into the class library?  Will you allow children to take it home on a rota basis? 
  • Consider how you might involve parents / caregivers, eg, children can make a personalized version of the picturebook to share with their families at home, etc.

    If possible, record or film yourself reading a picturebook aloud with your pupils and evaluate your performance.  Think about the following:

  • Peritext – did I draw children’s attention to the peritext and help them speak about this?
  • Pace – did I read too quickly/too slowly? Did I pause in the right places?
  • Eye contact – did I make eye contact with all the children during the storytelling to gauge their attention, understanding and enjoyment?
  • Pupil participation – did I ask the appropriate questions to help children relate the story to their own experiences, to elicit language and prior knowledge, to focus their attention, to predict what happens next, to encourage children to think about and express their own reactions to the narrative, the characters, the illustrations, etc?
  • Variation – did I vary the speed and volume of my voice where appropriate or adapt my voice for different characters?
  • Pronunciation – do I need to work on any aspects of my pronunciation such as vowels or consonants, stress, intonation or rhythm?
  • Did I make effective use of any visual or audio clues such as facial expressions, gestures, sound effects, objects, etc?
  • General impression – what could I do better?