The Story Behind Picture Book Month – December 11, 2011

by Dianne on December 11, 2011

Picture Book Month logo by Joyce Wan

Friends:

I am Dianne de Las Casas, a children’s book author and storyteller. I specialize in picture books. This is the story behind the success of Picture Book Month.

In October 2010, the New York Times published an article that declared “Picture Books No Longer a Staple for Children.” It set the children’s book world on fire and it set me on fire. In September 2011, I had the idea to create a campaign, an international initiative designating November as Picture Book Month. I enlisted the aid of several movers and shakers in my industry and created a marketing plan. I wanted Picture Book Month to be repeated year after year so the first year in existence was very important.

A timeless logo was created by Joyce Wan, a picture book author and owner of a stationery company. I created a hook: “November is Picture Book Month! Read * Share * Celebrate!” My web designer and I built a website. The website, www.picturebookmonth.com, featured an essay a day about the importance of picture books by “Picture Book Month Champions,” prominent people in the field – authors, illustrators, bloggers, and literacy experts. I reached out and found major partners like Children’s Book Council, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Better World Books, and Scholastic. I wrote a press release that was sent to all the children’s book industry media. Digital badges were made so that people could put them on their websites. A Twibbon was created for Twitter and Facebook. A Twitter hashtag (#PictureBookMonth) was created. The website featured a month-long theme calendar, activities, and printables for librarians and teachers. Professional videos were produced by motion graphics designer, Carter Higgins. All of this was done in less than a month!

My co-founders (Katie Davis, Elizabeth Dulemba, Tara Lazar and Wendy Martin) and I began shouting it out on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media. Christopher Cheng, from Australia, became our international liaison. The initiative struck a chord and became a movement. It took hold on Twitter, Facebook, and all over the kidlitosphere. The movement became so big that it was written about in School Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, Huffington Post, and… OPRAH! http://www.oprah.com/blogs/November-is-Picture-Book-Month A story about Picture Book Month was featured on Life Lift, The Oprah blog. By the time it hit Oprah, the movement had gone viral and went worldwide. I was getting emails, photos, and videos from around the world with schools and libraries holding Picture Book Month celebrations. You know you have a cause and a movement when the “me” becomes a “we.” Picture Book Month was also written about in Jamaica, Philippines, Australia, Canada, and India, to name a few countries. Go ahead and Google “Picture Book Month.” You’ll get a few million results.

To create a cause like this you need a few things in place. The first and most important thing is a genuine passion and a love for your cause. Secondly, others need to share that passion. Next, you need to have a balance of what I call “news makers” and “news reporters.” The news makers are the “celebrities” people want to read about. The news reporters are the people who evangelize the cause. You must also have a strong network. Without this network to spread the news, there is no news. Your vision must be backed up by a solid plan. Finally, be prepared to work. Movements need leaders and leaders must work.

I have already lined up Picture Book Month Champions for next year: Sergio Bumatay III (Philippines), Doreen Cronin (USA), Toni DiTerlizzi (USA), Brett Helquist (USA), Tom Lichtenheld (USA), Bruce Whatley (Australia), Karma Wilson (USA), and Paul O. Zelinsky (USA), to name a few. 2012 promises to be even bigger and better. It will be even more international in scope, bridging picture books and picture book lovers around the world. We are collaborating with companies and organizations to create a HUGE month-long celebration of literacy. If you would like to be involved, please fill out the contact form on our website.

November is Picture Book Month! Read * Share * Celebrate!

Warmly, Dianne

Dianne de Las Casas

About Dianne de Las Casas
A champion for literacy, she is founder of the international initiative, Picture Book Month, which was featured in Life Lift, The Oprah blog. She is the author of several children’s picture books including The Cajun Cornbread Boy (Pelican Publishing; 2009), Madame Poulet & Monsieur Roach (Pelican Publishing; Fall 2009), Mama’s Bayou (Pelican Publishing; Spring 2010); The Gigantic Sweet Potato (Pelican Publishing; Fall 2010), There’s A Dragon in the Library (Pelican Publishing, Spring 2011), The House That Witchy Built (Pelican Publishing, Fall 2011), Blue Frog: The Legend of Chocolate (Pelican Publishing, Fall 2011) and Dinosaur Mardi Gras (Pelican Publishing, Spring 2012).

She performs arts-in-education programs and residencies at schools, libraries, festivals, museums, and special events. Interviewed by the Wall Street Journal and many other media outlets, de Las Casas is a sought-after international professional development workshop leader. She is a frequent presenter at IRA, ALA, AASL and other literacy and education conferences. An enthusiastic advocate of literacy and arts-in-education programming, Dianne de Las Casas continues to make the story connection with thousands of children every year, reaching and teaching through the wonder of stories.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Eric Van Raepenbusch December 11, 2011 at 4:41 pm

Keep up the good work! It is such a wonderful idea!

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Joanna December 12, 2011 at 2:11 pm

What a glorious month of celebration WE have had, Dianne. Bravo to you and the team! I think next year will blow us out of the water – I can’t wait. Thank you.

Reply

Elizabeth Dulemba December 12, 2011 at 3:51 pm

So proud to be a part! Sign me up for next year too! 🙂 e

Reply

Charles Ghigna December 14, 2011 at 6:29 pm

Thanks, Dianne!
It was a November to remember.
Already looking forward to next year’s celebration.
The future of Picture Books is alive and well in your good hands!

Reply

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