Why Picture Books Are Important by Anna Dewdney

by Dianne on November 14, 2014


Why Picture Books Are Important by Anna Dewdney
What we need to remember is this: when we read a picture book with a child, we are doing so much than teaching him to read or instilling in her a love of language, or improving literacy. We are doing a much more powerful thing – we are sharing our voices, our imaginations, and our experiences with a child. With that, that child learns to see the world through someone else’s eyes.

We learn empathy as children, through our interactions with the people in our lives and by experiencing the world around us. By reading picture books with children, we share other worlds, and even more importantly, we share ourselves. Reading with children makes an intimate, human connection that teaches that child what it means to be alive as one of many live beings on the planet. We are naming feelings, expressing experience, and demonstrating love and understanding… all in a safe environment. When we read a book with children, then children – no matter how stressed, no matter how challenged – are drawn out of themselves to bond with other human beings, and to see and feel the experiences of others. I believe that it is this moment that makes us human. In this sense, reading makes us human.

Anna Dewdney

Anna Dewdney

About Anna Dewdney
Anna Dewdney is the bestselling author and illustrator of over 15 award-winning children’s books, most notably the Llama Llama series. Her stories have been adapted into several theatre productions and have been translated into more than ten foreign languages. Anna grew up outside New York City and has lived in Vermont since the early 1980s. Before writing and illustrating her own work, she illustrated several books for other writers. She has worked as waitress, a rural mail-carrier, and has taught art, remedial language, history, and English in boarding schools. Anna is a strong advocate of literacy and in addition to speaking across the country on the importance of reading for children, she has published articles about this topic in several publications including the Wall Street Journal. Anna supports environmental efforts, including pangolin conservation in southeast Asia, as well as local historic preservation. Anna enjoys running and gardening. She is the mother of two daughters and several dogs.

Picture Book Month Daily Theme: Llamas

Curriculum Connections

Look closely at the illustrations in Nelly Gnu and Daddy Too. How would you describe how Nelly Gnu? How do you think she feels in each illustration? What about the illustration makes you believe she feels this way?

Stand up and mimic what she is doing? How does it make you feel?

Ask children to share their ideas for each illustration while they are on their feet imitating Nelly Gnu. For example, “Nelly Gnu is feeling happy. I feel happy when _______.”

Correlates to the Common Core Reading standards: R.K.7, R.1.7, R.2.7, R.3.6, 7

HANDS-ON BONUS: Divide children into groups of 3-4. Give each group a cardboard box. Assign each student a different task: markers, glue, colored paper, scissors, etc. Ask children to decorate the box using teamwork, just like Nelly Gnu and her daddy. How does working together make you feel?

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

:Donna November 14, 2014 at 12:36 am

You’re right, Anna. Reading is one of the most “human” things we do! Beautiful post 🙂


Joanne Roberts November 14, 2014 at 10:37 am

Thank-you for reminding us as writers to share our hearts. Thank-you for reminding us as parents to slow down. Thank-you for reminding us as teachers that it is all worthwhile. I love Picture Book Month!


Robin Pulver November 14, 2014 at 11:00 am

This is a wonderful comment. Thank you. And I agree completely!


Doris Stone November 14, 2014 at 5:51 pm

Anna, thank you for a wonderful post!


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