Why Picture Books Are Important by Aaron Becker

by Dianne on November 1, 2014

Aaron Becker cover

Why Picture Books Are Important by Aaron Becker
The picture book physically connects a child to their world through story. It provides an elemental platform in which storytelling can find its way into the newest members of our planet and provide a moral compass, or at the very least a subtle whisper: “You are not alone. You matter.” When we share a book with a child, an exchange is taking place: a passing-down of wisdom, adventure, joy, and even love. The pictures take on a special significance here. They become the vehicle of communication – the path upon which a young child can walk on, or better yet, to meander through, as they discover which way they want to go. As the world changes, we must ask ourselves what we’re losing in this transition from books to glowing entertainment devices. The fear here, I think, is that without the quieter paths of a shared book, we might all end up lazily building houses made of straw, or worse yet, turn into the big bad wolf himself, searching for the next best thing to eat up.

The picture book is a physical object that demands our engagement and attention. It does this without beeps or whistles or touch screens or promises of something faster, better, and more efficient. It tells us we can take our time. The pictures, within their bound pages, allow children to formulate their own stories; to find their own way. But the picture book also suggests something greater – that the world is a place we might have an actual connection to. In the arms of a parent, a child hears and touches and feels that connection through the simple gift of story. All they have to do – all WE have to do – is slow down and listen. I’ve yet to find an “app” that does this very well.

Aaron Becker

Aaron Becker

About Aaron Becker
Born in Baltimore, Aaron Becker moved to California to attend Pomona College where he scored his first illustration job designing t-shirts for his water polo team. After attending the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, he worked in the Bay Area as a concept designer for Disney, Lucasfilm, and other film studios. Journey, his debut picture book, was the recipient of a 2014 Caldecott Honor as well as a 2013 New York Times Best Illustrated book. His second book, Quest, publishes this fall. Aaron is now on his way with his family to the southern coast of Spain where he’ll complete the watercolors for the final chapter of his wordless picture book trilogy.

Picture Book Month Daily Theme: Travel

Curriculum Connections

Using the illustrations of Journey and Quest as inspiration, children can write their own text for the adventure, placing themselves in the role of the main character(s).

Encourage description of the setting and characters, as well as the feelings and dialogue that move the story forward.

Then, in a moment of slowing down and listening, children may share their stories aloud to others.

Correlates to the Common Core Writing standards: W.3.3a-d; W.4.3a-e, W.5.3a-e; Speaking and Listening standards SL.3.4; SL.4.4; SL.5.4; Language standards L.3.1; L.4.1; L.5.1

LIBRARIANS and TEACHERS OF YOUNGER GRADES: Create a text for Journey and Quest together. Focus on visual literacy, asking children to assign emotions and inner thoughts to the characters on each page by adding narration, as well as thought or dialogue bubbles.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Jodi November 1, 2014 at 6:51 am

YES! Taking the time to share a book is a million times better than handing them a DS or an iPad. Thank you for reinforcing the importance and magic of using ones imagination!


Bekah Hoeft November 1, 2014 at 7:25 am

Love this. Somewhere during the last year, my 7 and 10 yo and I have lost the habit of reading together. On the rare occasion that we do read together, I know we feel a sense of relief, probably due to the slowing down and connection that you talk about. Thanks for the reminder!


Diane Kress Hower November 1, 2014 at 8:22 am

Wonderful post Aaron. I could not agree more!


BONNIE BUCKINGHAM November 1, 2014 at 8:55 am

You put words for a wordless book: no Apps!
Thank you. Love your first book and looking forward to Quest!


Kathryn Ault Noble November 1, 2014 at 3:22 pm

Hey, Aaron, good reminders! Love what you wrote about houses of straw. . .trying to not become the big bad wolf myself. I have no apps, so far. I love to meander through your gorgeous books! After you return from Spain I hope to get them signed. . .LA next year? Can’t wait to see your new watercolors!


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