It’s Picture Book Month!!
For the entire month of November we get to officially celebrate the often underrated art of combining words with illustrations to create a magical dynamic that impacts readers in a way no other medium can. The picture book, unlike any other form of literature, invites readers to analyze, not just the words in the story, but also the images on the page. With their shorter prose and beautiful images, picture books are often the first taste of the world of books that young people get. They gently introduce difficult topics, speak complex truths simply, and bring to life worlds and characters we could never imagine.
Yes, picture books are fantastic for kids and -- let’s admit it -- we all have at least one favorite picture book sitting on our shelves that we like to page through every now and then. I know I do, and I’m not alone.
Picture book author/illustrator Molly Idle writes,
“Picture books are a mirror. A magic mirror. For picture books can show us, not only reflections of ourselves, but reflections of other people and places too. They can show us reflections of the past, the present and the future. Reflections of the possible and the impossible. The real, and the imagined…And in all of those reflections, we see ourselves.”
(Check out the Picture Book Month Website to read even more quotes from your favorite authors on why they believe picture books are important!)
Sadly, picture books are often brushed aside as “beginner books”. Many people believe that a child still reading picture books after the age of 8 must be stunted in some way. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Picture books are fantastic tools for introducing difficult or complex topics, encouraging reluctant readers, building analytical skills in readers of all ages, and growing observational skills, in addition to just being fun! Thankfully, thanks to recent studies, more and more people are beginning to realize the incredible value packed into the pages of the picture book. Author Debbie Ridpath Ohi wrote an excellent blog post that discusses this value and the many benefits of picture books in greater depth over on her site, inkygirl.com.
Another frequently overlooked detail about picture books is the incredible amount of collaboration that goes into their creation. Occasionally a brilliant author/illustrator/marketer appears on the scene, but this is rare. Typically, there is an author, illustrator, and publisher working together to make a story come to life. Pictures and text must work seamlessly to capture the most important essence of the page, revealing the depth of character and the tone of the story. Every line and every color is carefully chosen to ensure the message is communicated properly. Once completed, a marketer must identify the proper audience and find ways to connect that audience with the books that they enjoy.
It is teamwork, from beginning to end.
The idea of a lone author madly typing away in solitude cannot exist in this situation.
This collaborative quality, combined with the inherent power for teaching inside each picture book, makes this genre a fantastic instrument for integrating bullying prevention into the classroom (For more great ideas on integrating bullying prevention into other areas of the classroom, check out last month’s blog).
Not only do they offer an easy gateway into the discussion of a difficult topic and leave room for expansion, their collaborative nature provides an opportunity to discuss the value of teamwork and the bringing together of different talents to meet a common goal. Here is a simple project integrating bullying prevention education that you can do with your students of all ages using picture books:
An added bonus is that this project will open the door for students to talk to students about bullying. While they may not want to listen to what an adult has to say, they may be more open to the messages of their peers. Books are fun and nonthreatening and often bring together groups and individuals that would not typically meet. As Reddit user “Coolstoryreddit” stated:
“Seeing someone read a book you love is seeing a book recommend a person”
Picture books are more than just books. They are more than starter literature. They are examples of the magic that can happen when people work together using their unique gifts to achieve a common goal. This Picture Book Month, grab a picture book off the shelf and capture some of that magic for yourself!
What picture book do you still have on your shelf? What lesson did you learn from a picture book that you still remember today? Share in the comments!
About Laughing Leopard Press
Hello! We are Laughing Leopard Press, an independent book publisher from Akron, Ohio. At Laughing Leopard Press, we’re interested in publishing works that contribute to our understanding of this wonderful world. Through this blog, we hope to add to that understanding with commentary on life, literature, and a few things in between. We hope you enjoy the blog and take some time to talk with us in the comments or on our social media sites. Happy reading!
This is A. Blob by L. A Kefalos. $14.95
$1.00 is donated to charity for each book sold on this site--half to St. Jude's and the other half to PetFix Northeast Ohio.