Why Picture Books Are Important by Sean Qualls

by Dianne on November 22, 2012

Why Picture Books Are Important by Sean Qualls
I’m not sure when I first read Ezra Jack Keats’ A Snowy Day or John Steptoe’s Stevie. I’m not sure that I even read them as a child or that they were read to me…maybe I only saw the pictures. But as an adult, parent, and illustrator of children’s literature, these books and others like Evaline Ness’ Sam, Bangs & Moonshine or Lucille Clifton’s Everett Anderson never cease to remind me of the importance of picture books and the work that I do.

Yes, picture books are important. In a world heavy with mobile devices, social media and an insane deluge of apps and products promising us an easier/better life, picture books afford a much needed opportunity for parent and child to bond, share, and learn together. They give rise to and validate the grand imaginings of our pint size population.

For children, picture books provide a window onto the world; a way for them to delve into an array of situations, cultures and histories, to explore shapes, forms, line and color juxtaposed with words. Picture books give a child a sense of who they are in the world and who they may become.

Just like the children who read them, by their very nature, picture books are important and a world without them is not worth imagining.

Sean Qualls

About Sean Qualls
Sean Qualls is an award winning, Brooklyn-based, children’s book illustrator, artist and author. He has illustrated a number of celebrated books for children, including Giant Steps to Change The World by Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis-Lee, Little Cloud and Lady Wind by Toni Morrison and her son Slade and Before John Was a Jazz Giant, for which he received a Coretta Scott King Illustration Honor. Sean also created the art for Dizzy by Jonah Winter and most recently Freedom Song (The Story of Henry “Box” Brown) by Sally Walker. His work has received two Blue Ribbon citations from the Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books where he was also cited for his “serious craftsmanship” and an “original style.” He lives and works in a small house in Brooklyn with his wife Selina Alko and their two children Ginger and Isaiah.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Laura Anne Miller November 25, 2012 at 4:27 pm

Sean, I love your statement that ‘Picture books give a child a sense of who they are in the world and who they may become.’ And yes, I love the excuse of a picture book session to take me away from technology to immerse in a colorful world with my grandchildren. Thanks, Sean for contributing to picture book month.


Charlotte Wheater November 27, 2012 at 11:41 am

Sean, you hit it on the head. Pictures give kids the opportunity to quietly fantasize and for me, the grandparent, spend time and have them give me an insight into their mind and world.


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