Why Picture Books Are Important
I have always believed that literature begins in the cradle — the poems we say to the babies, the stories we tell them — prepare them to become part of the great human storytelling community. We humans are the only creatures in the known universe who make and remake our world with story.
So the best books for children — books like Where the Wild Things Are, Grandfather Twilight, Make Way for Ducklings, and A Snowy Day to name a few of my many, many favorites, become part of the listening child’s literary vocabulary and the way he or she constructs and understands the world.
Not to read books to our children is to stunt their intellectual growth as surely as if you stunt their physical growth by never giving them any protein. We put parents in jail for starving their children. I feel the same way about parents who starve their children intellectually.
About Jane Yolen
Jane Yolen has been called the Hans Christian Andersen of America and the Aesop of the twentieth century. She has written over 300 books, has won numerous awards (The Emperor and the Kite and Owl Moon are both Caldecott Honor Books), and has been given six honorary doctorates in literature. Yolen is also a songwriter, a poet, and a professional storyteller. Folklore, she believes, is the universal human language, a language that children instinctively feel in their hearts.