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A concept book refers to a collection of titles describing various aspects of an object, groups of objects, or an abstraction. Concept books usually deal with colors, shapes, numbers, and the alphabet.
Components of an Effective Concept Book
Concept books can have a positive effect on children. According to Carlson, concepts which normally do not have plots, characters, or dialogues, are actually children’s initial instructive picture books (Carlson, 1). Early childhood instructors can utilize concept books as visual devices to teach children about various colors, shapes, numbers, and the alphabet. Children develop ideas usually by interacting with their surroundings and reading books. Concept books can be used to teach children cognitive, thinking, and literacy skills.
One method of utilizing the books involves reading them aloud in class and then discussing the concepts that arise from these readings. This helps young children to build their vocabulary which, in turn, improves their communication skills. Another method of employing concept books is using them to teach new ideas, reinforce concepts, and add additional information on a subject that children have encountered personally (Carlson, 1). Taking into consideration that most young children are not able to read, these books normally include pictures annotated with words to help them grasp new concepts faster. As a result of utilizing pictures, instructors are able to assist children understand that different words have distinct meanings and that they stand for particular things including shapes, colors, numbers, or letters of the alphabet. The components of a concept book should be interesting to read and they should also promote conversation (Carlson, 1). A good concept book should contain picture illustrations to demonstrate various concepts. In addition, the subject should be exciting, stimulating, and one that encourages interaction among children.
Although there are numerous concept books in the market today, not all of them are appropriate for children. Giorgis and Glazer suggest that a teacher should take into account children’s level of development and the objective of using a concept book before purchasing one (Carlson, 2).
Concept Books Appropriate for Children
Books on Colors
It is very important to learn the names of different colors. The names of various colors are easy concepts that can be grasped by children from the age of two years. Hence, concepts books meant for teaching about basic colors like red, blue, and green, are suitable for very young children and those attending preschool (Carlson, 3). Basically, books that deal with the mixing of colors are unsuitable for very young children.
When choosing alphabet books for children, it is important to take into account two issues. The first issue concerns whether the illustrations in the books are well designed so as to make the objects easily identifiable (Carlson, 3). The second issue concerns the usefulness of these books. Many books for teaching the alphabet seem to have been made to showcase artistic talent instead of concentrating on teaching young children the alphabet.
Books on Shapes
Recognizing and naming various geometric shapes is a simple activity that can be taught to young children. There are different books on shapes depending on whether the audience is toddlers or preschoolers (Carlson, 3).
Number books usually use objects to represent numbers. Counting books help young student to gain knowledge of quantities as well as counting skills from an early age (Carlson, 3). These books are more effective in teaching numbers than spelled out numerals.
Ritualized Dialogue Technique
Ritualized dialogue refers to the utilization of concepts with children being employed as props. This technique was originated by Ninio and Bruner who carried out a research on the interactions between a mother and a child using picture books. This study was conducted over a period of ten months (Carlson, 4). The study aimed at investigating the names and labels of objects and people among young children. The study found that reading picture books had a structure that was similar to a dialogue. As a toddler, the child communicated through smiles, pointing, and babbling words. However, when the child grew up, he stopped babbling and instead he started to speak clearly.
According to Piaget, mechanical teaching of numbers to children is not healthy. He claimed that children should be allowed to learn the concept of numbers before they can start counting. If children are introduced to numbers for the first time through rote learning this may affect their ability to develop number sequences necessary in the understanding of integers. Piget argued that three and four year-olds make their judgments based on immediate perceptions. This stage is known as preoperational thinking stage (Carlson, 4). When children attain the age of seven, however, their cognitive abilities change and they are able to base their judgments on more than one aspect. This stage is known as the concrete operational stage.
An Effective Concept Book
One of the most effective concept books used for teaching young children is The very Hungry Caterpillar (1969), written by Eric Carle. This book describes the progress of a caterpillar until it turns out into a butterfly. The book teaches children how to count the days of the week as well as the life cycle of a caterpillar.