Monday, February 11, 2013

Rebus Books

Part of my journey into children's books has involved rebus books. If you're wondering what a rebus is it is defined by Merriam Webster as "a representation of words or syllables by pictures of objects or by symbols whose names resemble the intended words or syllables in sound".

Still confused? Perhaps some of you have been to a Christmas party where you had to figure out the name of the Christmas carol by looking at the pictures inside the box. 

Make sense now?    

Rebus books allow your pre-reading child to "read" along with you by knowing what to say when they see the picture but you the adult are still doing most of the narration.

The other day my daughter received a rebus book of poetry called Night House Bright House from the Imagination Station program in our state (Have I mentioned how much I LOVE this program? Free books mailed to the house are so wonderful!). The format was both rebus AND word. Now I know I am new to the rebus world, but doesn't putting the word next to it defeat the purpose of the picture it represents? I took a picture of one of the pages so you could understand the conversation that ensued when we read it for bedtime.    

Me: "Shh -- it's night," said the...
My daughter: LAMP! 
Me, slightly puzzled why they had a lamp: Well, it does look like a lamp, but it's supposed to rhyme with night. Look at the word next to it -- light.  

Me: "Pit-a-pat," said the...  
My daughter: RUG! 
Me, slightly puzzled why they had a rug: Well, it does look like a rug, but it's supposed to rhyme with pat. Look at the word next to it -- mat.

Me: "Jingle, jangle," said the...
My daughter: BRACELET! 

Me: "Clinkety, clank," said the...
My daughter: PIG! 

By now some of you are thinking my daughter can't get this rhyming thing down (she did eventually). However, I was confused at to why they put these fun pictures that children with a limited vocabulary would get confused with on the page with the intended word. The rest of the book had several items that looked like one thing, but were meant to represent another. Don't get me wrong, the idea is cute (on the other page you can look in the big picture for the objects that were being rhymed), but I felt bad for having to correct her until she got the idea that the pictures were somewhat misleading.

Have any of you have good luck with rebus books? I would love some good suggestions to counteract this poor one I gave as an example.