Picture booksthose lovely, slim volumes full of beautiful
illustrations and graphics and just a tiny bit of textare
usually labeled for preschoolers and young elementary students.
So, if you, like I do, still love picture books, you may harbor
a few guilty feelings about your passion.
No, no, no! says Jessie Alexander-East, a childrens
librarian at the Library Center. You can read picture
books all your life and still find new meanings in them when
you read them as adults. As examples, she cites The
Stranger by Chris Van Allsburg and The
Butter Battle Book by Dr. Seuss.
Whats different about picture books, says Alexander-East,
is that the illustrations help tell the story. The brief text,
supplemented by the rich textures of the drawings or photos,
only adds to the experience of reading picture books.
Another misconception about picture books is they are all
fiction. Not so. There are many nonfiction picture books that
explain scientific facts or historical events.
An example of the latter is Thank
You, Sarah by Laurie Halse Anderson and illustrated
by Matt Faulkner. Its subtitled The Woman Who
Saved Thanksgiving and tells the story of Sarah Hale,
who not only persuaded President Lincoln in 1863 to designate
Thanksgiving a national holiday, but also fought for
playgrounds for kids, schools for girls. . .She argued against
spanking, pie for breakfast, dull stories, corsets and bloomers
and bustles and very serious things like slavery.
Faulkners illustrations add to the text and transform
what-could-have-been a dry biography of a little-known 19th
century activist into an inspiring journey into what one individual
Autumn Equinox by Ellen Jackson has more text than
a typical picture book, but the gorgeous vibrant illustrations
by Jan Davey Ellis are a feast for the eyes and perfect for
a book about harvest celebrations and customs all over the
Apples, Apples combines a story about a bunny family
with a bushel of facts. Farmer Miller, another bunny, explains
how apples are grown, different varieties and other apple
information. The unique illustrations by the author, Nancy
Elizabeth Wallace, are three-dimensional paper cuttings glued
Pumpkin Book by Gail Gibbons gives the same treatmentlots
of interesting facts interlaced with wonderful drawings of
kidsto this common member of the squash family.
Leaves! Leaves! another Nancy Elizabeth Wallace
selection, complete with the same fascinating cut-out illustrations,
follows Buddy Bear and his mother on leaf walks. They learn
all kinds of things about leaves and how they change through
the seasons; theres an informative center spread showing
how leaves become a food factory to a tree.
All these picture books foster learning at its best and least
painful for both you and your child.