What’s your earliest memory of reading? Was it snuggled in someone’s lap, looking at a picture book, and pointing at the words and artwork? Was it making up your own story about the illustrations in a book? Or was it was reading and re-reading a favorite story until the pages were thin and torn?
For most of us, our reading lives began with picture books – board books, concept books, wordless books, and early readers. And, this month we celebrate the story format and all those wonderful memories with Picture Book Month.
Did you know that picture books originated with artist and illustrator Randolph Caldecott (1846-1886), who elevated the artwork to the level of storytelling rather than just page decoration? However, the format really blossomed in the early twentieth century with books about Curious George and the Babar the Elephant collection, and mid-century with Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are.
These classics, along with modern favorites like Mem Fox’s Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes / Diez Deditos or Don and Audrey Wood’s The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear / El Ratoncito, la Fresa Roja y Madura y el Gran Oso Hambriento, tap in to children’s imaginations as they explore the world through books, connecting to people, cultures, and events. Read-alouds with picture books are when the magic really happens, encouraging make believe and creativity while introducing children to story structure, colorful vocabulary, cause-and-effect, and more.
Picture books also go beyond storytelling to help young readers learn counting, symbols, and patterns that connect to math concepts, and can also offer pathways into other key academic areas like science and history. This pathway is particularly useful for engaging upper elementary and middle school students in learning about historical events and figures through narrative and pictures.
Poudre River Public Library District has an extensive collection of picture books available for checkout at each of its locations, with no extended-use fees. Get picture book recommendations from library staff, on the Kids section of the Library website, and through the Library service, SelectReads. There is even a list of the 100 Pictures Books Everyone Should Know available on the site.
Finally, while the old adage tells us to never judge a book by its cover, the picture book invites children to do just that. When choosing picture books for children, include them in the process of picking beautiful, eye-catching illustrations. For many children, picture books are their first introduction to art and its varied styles.
What was your favorite picture book growing up?
Share with us in the comments!