Monday, November 14, 2011

Picture Book Month

There’s a new holiday in town. November is now Picture Book Month. Several picture book authors got together to create this event—and, good for them. As they said on their web site, Picture Book Month: A Celebration!, “We are doing this because in this digital age where people are predicting the coming death of print books, picture books (the print kind) need love. And the world needs picture books. There’s nothing like the physical page turn of a beautifully crafted picture book.”

I have written on this subject myself, a rebuttal to the attitude reported in The New York Times, of parents wanting children to leap past picture books to read chapter books in the quest to get them on the road to...what?

Each day on this site, another picture book author writes an entry titled, “Why Picture Books are Important.” Here are some excerpts from the entries so far:

I believe our first stories become part of our DNA forever. -Samantha Berger

Picture books are important because they are with us for life…No matter how many books we’ve read since, they will always have a place in our hearts…and a relationship that, whether we realize it or not, has shaped our lives. -Dan Yaccarino

When my now 11 year old girl, Eliana, was a preschooler, we bought the book, In My World, by Lois Ehlert. The illustrations are simple. The text is sparse. And yet, there is a magic about this book that completely captured her. It could have been the exquisite die cuts or the bright colors… It could have been. But it wasn't. It was the wondrous way the words and the pictures were married. One could not work without the other. Every night, Eliana read that book to me, putting her little hand, which fit perfectly, inside the die cut hand of the book. And every night I would tear up knowing that I was experiencing a magical moment in my daughter's life… -Diane de las Casas

Picture books have a special kind of magic in the hands of children. They open windows of opportunity — glimpses of new worlds — in the safest of places: in the library, in the classroom, or in their very own rooms. Kids can sound out one word at a time, breeze through full sentences or skip the words altogether to build stories of their own based on warm, vivid illustrations. Anything is possible… -Kelly Milner Halls

I have a sixteen-year-old niece, Sarah. A year ago my sister-in-law, her mom, died suddenly. A friend of the family gave my brother a picture book called Tear Soup to help with Sarah’s mourning.
One night, he walked into her room with the book under his arm. She took one look at him, rolled her eyes, and said, “Yeah, right. You’re going to read THAT to ME?”
“Yes,” he said. “Move over.”
She argued – what teen girl wouldn’t? – but grudgingly made room. They cuddled up and read the book. A couple of days later, Sarah asked, “Dad, whatever happened to all my picture books from when I was little?” My brother pulled a box out of storage and the next night came in with Caps for Sale.
A new tradition was born. For months, every night, he’d read a picture book to her from her childhood.
Picture books heal. No matter your age. -Katie Davis

I have looked up some of the other created holidays for November—International Drum Month, Peanut Butter Lovers Month, Aviation History Month. In my book, this one beats them hands down.

Spread the word.

In celebration of picture books, I would like to recommend one. I’m cheating, though. This one is not nonfiction, but still, “pure genius” according to its Kirkus starred review.

Furthermore it was written by Lita Judge, an author whose books are mostly nonfiction including the lauded One Thousand Tracings and Born to be Giants.

Red Sled by Lita Judge is a whimsical dream of fun and magic. And that is a fact!


Annalisa said...

hurray for picture books! i'm enjoying "the conductor" at the moment...such a loud wordless symphany.

gotta say i do love that red hat on the cover of the red sled. so beautiful.


Gretchen said...

Picture Books are a bedtime ritual! Kids and now grandchildren go to bed with a "stack" of books including favorite picture books: Picture Books are comfort food for the heart.

Melissa Stewart said...

Great post, Susan. WE all need to remember the magic of picture books. They do something an app just can't. And we need them at all stages of our lives--0 to 110.

Dianne de Las Casas said...

Thank you so much for a beautiful post on Picture Book Month. You made me tear up. :) November will always be Picture Book Month! Read * Share * Celebrate!

Dianne de Las Casas
Founder, Picture Book Month