Why Picture Books Are Important by Laura Backes

by Dianne on November 19, 2011

Children's Book Insider Clubhouse

Why Picture Books Are Important
In our house, picture books – with their vivid, concise text and new illustrations waiting around each page-turn – offered my son an opportunity to become the characters in the story. He’d roll his eyes, gnash his teeth and leap about the room with Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, complete with his own Wild Rumpus chant (ooga booga ooga booga eeek eeek). Needless to say, this was not my first choice for a bedtime story.

But when Matt was five, his favorite book was William Steig’s Pete’s a Pizza. Pete’s in a bad mood because it’s raining and he can’t play outside, so his father (in typical droll Steig style) decides to cheer Pete up by making him into a pizza. For weeks, part of our evening routine was recreating this story. I read along while my husband Jon put Matt on the table and stretched him like dough, sprinkled him with oil (water), and dotted him with tomatoes and cheese (checkers and scraps of paper). Then Matt (holding himself flat with his eyes closed just like Pete) was placed on the couch to “bake”. Just before being cut into slices, Matt would leap up and run through the house, only to be captured and tickled. Just like Pete.

Picture books are family touch points. Seeing the cover immediately brings us back to a specific time and place in our lives. Turning the pages, even years later, elicits shared looks and smiles that don’t need explanation. They are priceless memories bound in dust jackets, ready to be pulled off the shelf any time we get the urge to relive them.

-Laura Backes

Laura Backes

About Laura Backes
Laura Backes is publisher of Children’s Book Insider, The Newsletter for Children’s Writers and co-founder of The CBI Clubhouse, an online membership community for children’s authors (www.CBIClubhouse.com). A 25-year veteran of the publishing industry, Laura is the author of Best Books for Kids Who (Think They) Hate to Read, and technical editor of Writing Children’s Books for Dummies. Her articles have been featured in The Writer and Writer’s Digest magazines, the 2012 edition of Children’s Writer’s and Illustrators’ Market. She also blogs at www.Write4Kids.com/blog.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Elizabeth Dulemba November 19, 2011 at 9:35 am

LOVE this! Make him a pizza! What a memory he has. 🙂 e

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Robyn Campbell November 19, 2011 at 12:24 pm

I love Laura! I’m a member of CBI. Where the Wild Things Are is the best picture book ever. And we loved How to Catch an Elephant, too. Wonderful thoughts here. *waving*

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Patricia Stoltey November 19, 2011 at 5:04 pm

I was so excited when our first grandchild came along two and a half years ago, because I love shopping for and reading picture books (especially with the little one on my lap). I’ve already bought four for Christmas and will probably buy more. Excellent post, Laura.

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Alison Ashley Formento November 19, 2011 at 5:20 pm

“They are priceless memories bound in dust jackets, ready to be pulled off the shelf any time we get the urge to relive them.” ABSOLUTELY!
Thanks for this great post.

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