Why Picture Books Are Important by Alexis O’Neill

by Dianne on November 15, 2014

Alexis O'Neill cover

Why Picture Books Are Important by Alexis O’Neill
A picture book is a perfect pen line. A curve of crayon. A wash of pigment. Layers of color on color on color. A picture book is a simile that shivers. A metaphor that melts. A not-a-poem, yet Every. Word. Counts. Picture books excite the eye, the ear, the heart.

A picture book is a living thing. It talks to your eyes. It colors your ears. It holds your heart in thrall until the last slender page. Will the ducklings cross the street safely? What will happen if Ferdinand refuses to fight? What can I do to make the world more beautiful?

A picture book connects generations upon generations curled on couches, snuggled in beds, perched on chairs, swaying in rockers. And when a picture book hangs from its spine in threads, when it bears the smudge of jelly and mud, when the pages are dog-eared or torn, when the parent says to the child, Here’s a book I loved when I was your age, that’s how we know why picture books are important.

Alexis O'Neill

Alexis O’Neill

About Alexis O’Neill
Alexis O’Neill is the author of awarding-winning picture books including The Recess Queen, Loud Emily, and The Kite That Bridged Two Nations. She is an active member of Ventura County Reading Association, California Reading Association (VCRA / CRA), Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and California School Library Association (CSLA). A family literacy advocate, Alexis was recently awarded the Dr. Marcus Foster Memorial Award from the California Reading Association for making significant and outstanding contributions to reading throughout California. One of her passions is connecting young readers with children’s authors and illustrators through school visits. She lives in Southern California. For more information, go to: www.alexisoneill.com

Picture Book Month Daily Theme: School

Curriculum Connections

Read Alexis O’Neill’s The Kite that Bridged Two Nations aloud as a class. Just like Homan Walsh’s kite in the story connects Canada to America, books act like kites connecting the readers together in a shared experience.

Have each child choose a book that they love. It can be any kind of book as long as it is a book that they want to share with other readers.

Then, assist the children in creating kites out of construction paper and yarn or string. On their kite, the child should write the title of the book that they would like to connect others to. Include a sentence or two about why they recommend this book.

Create a bulletin board display of the kites.

Encourage other children to check out the recommended books. When they do, they should add a clothespin which includes their name to the string of the book’s kite to show that a connection was made.

Correlates to the Common Core Writing standards: W.K.1; W.1.1; W.2.1; W.3.1; W.4.1; W.5.1

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Carol Kondrat November 15, 2014 at 1:45 am

I am a retired teacher now, but when teaching in fourth and fifth grades, I used picture books to teach the skills needed for the state testing. It was easier for students to understand and learn the skills when they did not have to struggle with vocabulary and comprehension. As an art lover, I used illustrations and art posters to teach writing as well. A picture can truly be worth a thousand words.


Kelly Ramsdell Fineman November 15, 2014 at 12:25 pm

Oh, how I love Alexis’s description of what a picture book is: “a simile that shivers. A metaphor that melts. A not-a-poem yet Every. Word. Counts.” Very inspiring and resonant.


topangamaria November 15, 2014 at 2:22 pm

Your telling us why was so good it gave me the shivers


Tina Cho November 15, 2014 at 7:51 pm

A beautiful post, Alexis. I like your description of pbs!


:Donna November 15, 2014 at 8:58 pm

I love this, Alexis 🙂 It oozes with sentiment–one, big “metaphor that melts”– which is one of my absolute favorite things about print picture books 🙂 Thank you!


Jackie Imrich November 17, 2014 at 3:26 am

Well said, Alexis O’Neill, pal of pals! Your living words simmer with the glow pic books have and remind us that pic books were our first Introducer to literature that would help form all of our lives. I can remember my mom reading to me The Little Engine That Could. Once in a while I would glance at the book she held in her hands and check out the pics that portrayed the story. From there I took off into my own imagination, adding pics to the story all of my own, as many readers, I’m told, often do. In that sense every reader makes his own personal story of the words being offered and may change it as he hears it again, and again. –Thanks Alexis, dear friend and great writer, for your comments and your own picture books that live on. Thanks for enriching my life, and others. And a salute to others who do so, as well. xo –Jackie Imrich 11-17-2014


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