Why Picture Books Are Important by Rob Scotton

by Dianne on November 15, 2013

Rob Scotton book cover

I love picture books, always have and always will. From the moment I picked up a certain, well-thumbed book in the ‘reading corner’ of my classroom at primary school at age 6, I have been fascinated and in love. That particular book was Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak and although I had previously turned the pages of this book many times, I suddenly found myself looking at it with a new found sense of discovery. The characters were alive to me. The snarling beasties, straining to burst free of the covers, so tactile and dramatic, held me fascinated. I lost myself in the pages and feasted on that wild rumpus.

This was my moment of discovery and in a rush, my imagination was activated and released by this beautiful, simple key. A bunch of paper sandwiched between two pieces of board. A book. But oh, what a book!

As an enthusiastic wielder of pencils and crayons, with my young mind fueled with ideas and inspiration, fantastical creatures of all shapes and colours spilled from my crayons onto every scrap of paper I could lay my hungry fingers on. I was hooked. I still am.

That was my earliest recollection of the inspiration and magic a picture book can conjure, and I’m sure that there are countless other similar inspirational moments occurring daily the world over, everywhere that young minds and glorious books collide.

Fast forward to now, as we all find ourselves surfing ever faster and ever more adventurously on a relentless, digital tsunami, seemingly engulfing all in its way. When the pixelated waters finally still, how will the landscape of traditional publishing have changed and will paper bound picture books have survived the maelstrom?

For all the conversation, debate and analysis there is to be had between the merits of digital and traditional publishing and their co-existence, ultimately it comes to this:

Publishing is in the throes of an accelerated evolution, and evolution is by nature cruel and without sentiment. In the cold commercialism of the real world, only those who adapt, survive. Profits rule, not heart. We, the public as consumers, buy the picture books that, in turn, establish the viability of the market. And the choice we make of whether to buy paper bound picture books or the digital versions, will, in the final analysis, determine if paper picture books are to survive. The future of these magical treasures rests collectively in our hands.

A picture book, in all its hardbound glory, becomes a vessel of rich memories in the years to come. And when the time finally arrives for such a book to be put away, it merely waits, biding its time for when it’s picked up again by the child that follows.

A childhood is enriched by the memories that reside within the covers of a favourite book. And, in turn, a book is enriched by it’s time in the hands of a child.

Let’s not lose the magic.

Rob Scotton headshot

About Rob Scotton
Rob Graduated from Leicester Polytechnic with a BA Honours Degree in Graphic Design/Illustration in 1983 and thereafter, freelanced in the advertising world as an illustrator, undertook privately commissioned paintings, and designed greetings cards for many years. 2005 saw the release of Rob’s first book, Russell the Sheep. Russell the Sheep was an instant hit and became a New York Times Bestseller on both sides of the Atlantic and was shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Award. Rob has since had numerous bestsellers including a number one best seller with his Halloween story, Scaredy Cat Splat, featuring Splat the Cat, the second of Rob’s Characters to be introduced through HarperCollins. The Splat the Cat series now comprises eight picture books, a range of early reader, and other formatted books. Splat has achieved sales of over 7,000,000 books in the USA alone. Rob lives in Rutland, England with his wife, Liz.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Anne Sawan November 15, 2013 at 6:05 am

“Where The Wild Things Are” is my all time, hands down favorite. I agree, there is just something about holding a book, sharing the words, turning the pages that canot be duplicated on a computer.

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Catherine Johnson November 16, 2013 at 3:41 am

I love that ‘vessel of rich memories.’ Great post!

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Joanne Roberts November 16, 2013 at 4:16 pm

I love how the books are waiting for the next child, because they do. THanks.

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Penny Parker Klostermann November 18, 2013 at 9:04 pm

I just have to say “Thanks!” I love Splat! I have read those books over and over and over!

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