Why Picture Books Are Important by Ann Whitford Paul

by Dianne on November 12, 2014

Ann Whitford Paul cover

Why Picture Books Are Important by Ann Whitford Paul
“Read it again,” are my favorite words. As a mom I wouldn’t trade those many hours of reading picture books with my four children for anything. Sitting close, skin touching skin, focused on words and pictures are my warmest memories of parenting. My children would say the same, but we all knew the joy was about more than sharing quiet time together.

The stories entertained and gave us comfort. When our cat died, The Tenth Good Thing About Barney was read over and over again. When bed time was stressful, Good Night Moon was as soothing as a soft blanket. When we needed a laugh, If You Give A Mouse A Cookie always succeeded in bringing smiles. Picture books share the universality of experience. They let children know they’re not alone and that humor can sometimes be the perfect medicine.

Obviously it isn’t just the story that matters. How that story is told is critical. If sentences are flat and language dull, the parent will grow bored and the child will close the book and build block towers instead. That’s why picture book writers struggle to craft phrases that sing. We spend hours wondering if run is a better word than race. There’s a reason for all this work. If picture books are written well, in addition to telling a compelling story, listeners will ask to hear more and more books.

The story I write, the parents who share it, and the illustrators whose art draws pre-readers in, work together to introduce children to the wonderful world of books. That’s why “Read it again,” remain my favorite words. They mean the listener is well on the way to becoming an avid and passionate life-time reader.

Ann Whitford Paul

Ann Whitford Paul

About Ann Whitford Paul
Ann Whitford Paul loved reading to her four children so much that she became inspired to write books that other adults and children could share together. In addition to her rhymed and unrhymed, fiction and non-fiction picture books, she has published early readers and poetry and even a book for adults titled Writing Picture Books: A Hands-on Guide from Story Creation to Publication. Her latest book ‘Twas the Late Night Of Christmas gives Mrs. Saint Nick a well-deserved starring role and can be enjoyed by adults and children alike.

Curriculum Connections

Lead children in a discussion of their favorite books. What books make them say “Read it again”?

In Ann Whitford Paul’s ‘Twas the Late Night of Christmas, a popular tale of the holiday is told through Mrs. Saint Nick’s and Mom’s point of views. How does seeing Christmas through Mrs. Saint Nick’s and Mom’s eyes change the story? What do we learn that we didn’t through Santa Claus or the children’s eyes?

Children should choose a character from their favorite story, other than the main protagonist, and write the story from this other character’s point of view. Use The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs as told by Jon Scieszka and illustrated by Lane Smith, as an example.For another challenge, the students should place themselves in the story and tell their own version.

Correlates to the Common Core Reading Literature standards: RL.2.3,6, RL.3.6; Writing standards: W.2.3, W.3.3b

LIBRARIANS and TEACHERS OF YOUNGER GRADES: Read through ‘Twas the Late Night of Christmas with the children, having them pause to create thought-bubbles for what each character is thinking or feeling in each illustration.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Diane Kress Hower November 12, 2014 at 7:09 am

They are the simple three words rippling out and setting the foundation for real growth in children and relationships. Ann, thank you for the lovely post


Kirsti Call November 12, 2014 at 10:02 am

Ann, I love your book, Writing Picture Books…it is practical, concise and fun to read! Also very helpful in terms of making my manuscripts publication worthy! Thanks for the great post!


Tina Cho November 12, 2014 at 9:58 pm

You’re so right…finding that perfect word is necessary. Thanks for this wonderful post!


:Donna November 13, 2014 at 12:04 am

They are relatively short, as word goes (“Read it again.”), but carry so much weight 🙂 Wonderful post, as expected, Ann.Thank you!


Linda Thornburg November 13, 2014 at 3:51 pm

Thanks so much. Loved this article. My new picture book is out this month. I was encouraged to publish it by my two-year-old neighbor, Audrey’s mom. I made the book for family and friends but Audrey insisted on reading it over and over. She even memorized the inscription! http://thecatdoesnttravel.weebly.com/


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