Why Picture Books Are Important by Cynthia Leitich Smith

by Dianne on December 1, 2011

Holler Loudly by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Why Picture Books Are Important
One of my earliest summer memories is of sitting on the carpeted floor of a bookstore and pouring over Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak (1963). I was wearing a leotard and tights (no doubt just before or after a dance class) and I wanted that book. The bookseller tried to explain to my mother that it was considered quite wonderful, despite the alarming-looking illustrations and cranky child protagonist.

I don’t know if the bookseller cited its history of acclaim or profound impact on youth literature. But my mother still said no, mentioning something about it not being a good fit for good little girls. That part I remember. It was so important that I be a good little girl.

For weeks, my fingers itched for the story. Finally, it was time to go back to school. Upon my arrival in the library, I ran for Sendak’s masterpiece. And fell more deeply in love.

I was never a Wild Thing like Max. I was a good little girl.

I also grew up to become both a picture book writer and a horror novelist.

I write about some very wild things. And my mother is very proud of that.

-Cynthia Leitich Smith

Cynthia Leitich Smith

About Cynthia Leitich Smith
Cynthia Leitich Smith is the bestselling and award-winning author of such picture books as Jingle Dancer, illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu (Morrow, 2000) and Holler Loudly, illustrated by Barry Gott (Dutton, 2010) as well as the Tantalize series for teens (Candlewick, 2007-). She makes her home in sunny Austin, Texas and is well known for her popular children’s literature blog, Cynsations: http://cynthialeitichsmith.blogspot.com/ You can also find her on the web at www.cynthialeitichsmith.com.

Purchase Holler Loudly by Cynthia Leitich Smith from Better World Books, a Picture Book Month partner. You are “doing good” with every book you buy from Better World Books.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Marjorie (PaperTigers) December 1, 2011 at 8:37 am

I love that story :) So glad you squeezed in this bonus post!

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Varsha Bajaj December 1, 2011 at 9:10 am

The good little girl has become the most generous writer!

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Joanna December 1, 2011 at 10:58 am

Cool post – great memory. I think we can be both wild and good!

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Jeanette Larson December 1, 2011 at 1:49 pm

And in spite of being a good girl you have a lot of fun and are pretty wild! Thinking about the impact of picture books, I will say that a picture book influenced my career direction. I’m sure that others influenced other parts of my life.

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Deb Lund March 28, 2012 at 12:38 am

Reading this post makes memories flood back. I remember the impact of so many books on me, and later on my students and kids. It’s that legacy that you leave now, and that all creators of kids’ books leave. What an amazing profession, huh? Good work and a whole lot of fun!

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