I am thrilled to count myself among the ranks of children’s picture book writers. I believe, whole-heartedly, in the power of picture books. Of course, there are thousands of reasons to love picture books, but I’ve compiled my top ten.
My Top Ten Reasons Picture Books ROCK:
- Picture books provide an ideal setting to connect with your child. Reading picture books provides a time for parent and child to just be, together. There is no better way to connect, at the end of a hectic day, than to get lost in a picture book together. This ritual is one that you can continue well into their teen years (yes, really, I promise). Trust me, these shared moments are what kids look back on. That child becomes a parent who reads to his/her child, and so on, and so on…
- Picture books are funny. Where else can you laugh, out loud, about a pigeon begging to drive a bus or a “crack-up” over a dog, who despite his farting habit, becomes a hero?
- Picture books are serious. Some of the heaviest social and personal issues seem more approachable when told through a picture book. This can be a fantastic opportunity to explore situations, fears, and events that children might otherwise be reluctant to explore.
- Picture books are art. You don’t have to be an art expert to enjoy the limitless artistic styles waiting to be explored within a picture book.
- Picture books are ideal for reluctant readers. The illustrations in picture books help children understand the story better by providing visual clues of what is happening in the story and what might happen next. While a chapter book, filled with lines of text, might be intimidating-a picture book welcomes us to step inside-no special skills required. And wordless picture books provide an excellent opportunity to explore a story, without reading a single word. Wordless picture books can also be a great tool when working with English language learners.
- Picture books teach. I challenge you to find a non-fiction topic NOT explored in picture books. From world cultures and traditions, to life-cycles, or politics, picture books have it all. Teachers often use non-fiction picture books to supplement a specific topic or concept.
- Picture books are accessible. There is a reason librarians place picture books in bins on the floor and on low shelves. Picture books can take it, they are meant to be handled.
- Picture books make kids better readers. When we read picture books with our children, we are laying a strong foundation for their emergent literacy skills. The simple text helps them become skilled at sounding out words. They learn about the context and structure of stories, and recognize the relationship between cause and effect. All of these skills are crucial to becoming fluent readers.
- Picture books are NOT just for young children. As children get older, reading becomes a solitary adventure. We often push them (too fast, too soon) into chapter books and novels. But your child should not be denied this sacred time with you just because he/she is “growing up”. No one, nope, no one is EVER too old for picture books.
- Picture books are empowering. Children depend on adults for so much. We tell them what to eat, how to dress, what to say, and when to play. There aren’t a lot of opportunities for children to feel empowered. Going to the library, and allowing your child to choose his/her own picture books, is a great opportunity for him/her to feel independent. Very young children are able to memorize their favorite picture book stories. I don’t believe there is any better feeling of accomplishment than when a child can “read” a picture book to his/her parent. Can he/she truly read the words? No, but “reading” what he/she has memorized means he/she is internalizing the structure of a story. He/she knows it has a beginning, a middle and an end. He/she knows how to hold the book, and to turn the pages at the appropriate time. And this tiny person is reading, to you, all by him/herself! How cool is that?!
I hope my top ten list encourages you to crack open a picture book, with your child or loved one, and enjoy! Please feel free to leave a comment and share what you love most about picture books. I am interested to know how picture books impact you and your family.