Monday, October 11, 2010

Picture Books ARE Important

I was going to add these items to a Reader Roundup post later in the week but there's just too much to share to wait for that. Reading is important folks. All types of reading.

This New York Times article started the discussion rolling about how picture book sales are on the decline. There's really nothing for me to add to that part of the discussion except to say that I love picture books. The year that I worked in the Children's section at the local library and planned story times for pre-schoolers was unbelievably fun and fulfilling.

These two articles brought the discussion to my attention. GeekMom says. GeekDad says.

And now I would like to bring your attention to some of my favorite picture books and illustrators.

Knuffle Bunny Free: An Unexpected Diversion Mo Willems has been one of my favorite picture book authors since I found his pigeon books. They are hilarious. Jason laughed riotously at them when he was younger. I think Leonardo, the Terrible Monster is probably my personal favorite.

Jumanji If you've seen the movie Jumanji with Robin Williams, or even if you haven't, you should really read the book by Chris Van Allsburg. Beautiful illustrations. His book Zathura also became a movie.

Runny Babbit Book and Abridged CD Several years ago, all of the kids in my life got Shel Silverstein's Runny Babbit for Christmas. It's the most fun reading you'll find. And who can forget The Giving Tree?

And since I'm on the subject, I'll plug the local library while I'm at it. I just called the library where I used to work for help remembering Chris Van Allsburg's name. (Thanks Lori!) Librarians are smart people. And helpful. Books are great fun to buy but coming home from the library with an entire pile of fantastic books for free? Priceless.

Here's a link to information on the Caldecott Medal awarded annually "to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children." Caldecott Medal home page.

Here's a trick for you parents that I used frequently when I worked at the library. If you bring home some books and just place them in a prominent location, they will get read. I promise. You don't have to sell them to your children, or even tell them about them. Kids will notice the books and read them all on their own.

Here's an example from just this week. While I was shopping at Goodwill for Sarah's fall and winter wardrobe, I found a copy of Ruby Holler, which I had read for Battle of the Books while working at the library. I bought it thinking that even if my boys didn't want to read it I could give it to one of their teachers for her classroom library.

Well, Sarah was the first to see it and she claimed it for herself. Folks, she's three. It's a chapter book. But she took it into her room and it was HERS.

When she was distracted I took the book from Sarah's room and placed it on Jason's desk where it was too high for Sarah to see and reclaim as her own. Later Jason told me he didn't want to read it so I said fine then we'll just give it to Mrs. Buvia for her class to use.

Fast forward to less than 48 hours later. Jason had finished the book he was reading from the Gregor series, picked up Ruby Holler on his own, and the next day asked me if it was part of a series. Unfortunately, it's not.

Read a book with your kid today. We don't do this every day but when we do, the time is amazing. Your kids will surprise you with their insights and how special those few minutes will become to them. And now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to have to go to the library today. I'll post some pictures of the great books I find.

Please share your favorite picture books in the comments. I need to find a great one to give all the kids this year for Christmas!

Disclosure: yes, those book links are affiliate links. If you purchase books or anything else after clicking those links I'll make a teeny, tiny amount of money. And I will most likely spend it on books. So thank you!


  1. Oh, there are so many wonderful picture books out there! We're having fun at our house picking out favorites from my girls' childhoods to give to my niece's little boy. I went online a few months ago and picked up several (now out of print) favorites at various used-book sites. It was great fun.

    Christmas is coming, so I've found for Mr. Jimmy "Santa and the Little Teddy Bear" by Peter John Lucking. Fabulous illustrations and a plot designed to teach the true meaning of Christmas and why we celebrate. Jimmy may not get the true meaning yet -- he is only 2! -- but he will definitely love the illustrations, as they're simply stunning.

    Cannot echo your recommendation enough to read to your kids whenever possible. They are wonderful memories, and my niece is making her own, now.

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  3. I have always passed on my faves from when I was little - Goodnight Moon, any of the Clifford, the Big Red Dog, Curious George... Now it's fun to spoil our friends' kids with book & stuffed animals or character sets. Thanks for a great post!

  4. Oh gosh - so many good choices. Here are a few:

    1. The Paper Bag Princess, written by Robert Munsch with art by Michael Martchenko.

    2. Hondo & Fabian by Peter McCarty - not much of a story, but fabulous drawings.

    3. Tuesday, by David Wiesner.

    4. The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, by Chris Van Allsburg.

  5. It's so sad reading that NYT article because picture books come in all different levels, just like nonfiction books have pictures but are written for different age levels. A book having pictures doesn't mean it's for young children only. I have noticed our public library doesn't call them "picture books", they call them "everyone books" and the call letter on the spine is "E" for "everyone".

    I liked how we coded the picture books at the library (where I worked with Jen) -- ones with a pink dot on the spine are for the very young, and the ones with a green dot on the spine are more complex, for more mature readers. But it always took a lot educating the patrons who came in to get them to realize that picture books are for everyone!