I was at a huge rummage sale digging through boxes of books when I overheard another shopper next to me say, "I hate these Where's Waldo? books. Kids aren't learning anything from them…what a waste!" I just barely nodded my head and returned to the board books I was searching through. It wasn't until I was back in my car that I had finally formulated a full response. She may have been long gone, but I can still share with you how these books can be wonderful tools for learning.
Any book a child loves is worth its weight in gold, even a novelty book that you don't love. Teaching our children the mechanics of reading is only a portion of our job supporting their literacy development. Supporting their love of books is a big part, too. Your children won't go to college refusing to read anything but Where's Waldo?, so if they love it now it's OK. Try some of these simple activities with their favorite book and find books to boost their learning even more.
Work on Specific Skills
1. Look for letter sounds.
"I see something that starts with 'ah.' Yes there is an apple!"
2. Look for objects that start with certain letters.
"Can you find three things that start with the letter 'a'? Airplane, apple, anchor!"
3. Look for rhymes.
"Can you find something that rhymes with 'star'? Car!"
4. Count items.
Work on Storytelling
Choose random people in the pictures and ask your child to imagine the answers to questions like these:
• What's his name?
• What is she doing in that picture?
• What is he going to do next?
• Is she having a good day?
• What did he eat for breakfast?
There are no wrong answers. You will be prompting him to create a story with the limited information that is presented in the illustrations.
It's All About Favorites!
Ask your child to point out what she loves about each page. What is her favorite picture within the picture? Anything extra silly? When you ask these open-ended questions, you are asking her to dive deeper into these illustrations and pay close attention to detail.
Do your children love Where's Waldo? Is there a special way you explore these books in your home? Tell us about it on the Scholastic Parents Facebook page!