The Reasons You Should Read More Picture Books
Picture books aren’t just for children.
We tend to associate picture books with improving literacy in children, but they are so much more than educational tools. A good story transcends age and even older children and adults can enjoy them. After all, reading pictures is a skill just as reading words is, and illustrators often create visual puns or give the words a new (perhaps ironic or humorous) meaning through the pictures.
Picture books are diverse.
Go to the picture book section and you are more likely to find characters of color on the cover than you are in any other section. Picture books also feature mixed families, nontraditional families, LGBTQ characters, and more.
Picture books are creative.
Herve Tullet’s Press Here and Christie Matherson’s Tap the Magic Tree ask readers to interact with the story by pressing, shaking, and tapping the book. B. J. Novak ironically created a picture book without pictures in The Book with No Pictures. Wordless picture books allow readers to create their own story to go along with the images.
Picture books are works of art.
Because picture books are associated with children, the creativity and talent of the authors and illustrators can be overlooked. However, marrying the right illustrations and the right style of illustrations to the words is difficult, just as writing a moving, clever, or funny story in such a short space is difficult. Furthermore, sometimes the artwork is simply astounding. I can look at Aaron Becker’s beautiful landscapes all day, and I never cease to marvel at the way in which Mo Willems’s Piggie and Elephant are brought to life with just a few lines.
Some Recommendations to Get You Started
These wordless picture books follow two children as they escape their ordinary lives with magical crayons that allow them to draw what they need to travel through a strange new land.
Corduroy by Don Freeman
This classic from the 1960s recounts the story of a teddy bear who longs for a home but fears no one will buy him if his overalls are missing a button.
Otter has a lot of fun with Teddy and Otter Keeper, but hates when Otter Keeper has to go to work. Then she has an idea–she’ll get a job and open her own restaurant. What could possiblly go wrong?
We Are in a Book! by Mo Williems
This one is often shelved with beginner readers and maybe not technically considered a picture book. However, the Elephant and Piggie books from the author who brought us Don’t Let the Pigeon Ride the Bus are charming and funny–and this one, in which the characters realize they are in a book and attempt to influence the reading of the story, is one of my favorites.