The Value of a Picture Book
As we count the final days in October, and inevitably look forward to whatever unique festivities we plan for Halloween, we also look towards the next calendar month, November. And in this fantastic world of children's literature, November holds a special significance: November is Picture Book Month!
During November, we celebrate picture books, most importantly, printed picture books. During this month, we not only get to enjoy the daily reflections of those authors and artists choosing to participate in this month long celebration, but we also embrace our own affiliation with picture books, and contemplate, why they matter so much.
As a child, picture books provided me an escape. In a crowded, noisy household, I could smuggle a book upstairs to my loft bed, and lying just inches below the attic ceiling, I could transport myself, practically anywhere, with anyone at anytime. And I did this for hours.
Once an adult, and a professional educator, I utilized picture books in the creating of curriculum for my early childhood classrooms. Books don't necessarily teach.....they expose. So everything we envisioned at the school, involved the use of quality picture books.
Quality books provide children experiences that they may not otherwise enjoy. Books envelop children in an environment conducive to learning. Picture books help make learning possible and they most definitely contributed to the success of my school.
While parenting young children, I regularly sought picture books as resources and used them as vehicles to assist my own children as they dealt with moments of loss and disappointment. It became apparent, a picture book could often say, what I could not. When my words failed to heal, a book so often could. Picture books managed to mend.
And now, when I find myself inside a truly great bookstore (and there are lots of those in the Twin Cities), I head first to the Picture Book Section. I never leave a bookstore, without also purchasing a picture book.
I've learned what children have always known: A book does not need to be full of lots of words, to say a lot. It just has to be good.
And it has to be honest. Children are astute learners and they want honesty. The very best picture book writers have figured that out.
That is why I am so happy to celebrate so many of them this upcoming month.