Why Picture Books Are Important by Judy Schachner

by Dianne on November 21, 2014

Judy Schachner cover

Why Picture Books Are Important by Judy Schachner
I don’t believe in miracles,
but I do believe in picture books.

A few years back a teacher wrote and told me about a student she had been working with for a while. The boy was nonverbal and unable to move but he had very expressive eyes. So for over two years they tried to teach him to communicate using something called eye gaze… but with no luck.

“We always have story time,” the teacher wrote “and he listens complacently. One day, when I was finished, he started making noises we had never heard before. We began to prepare for what we thought might be another seizure. Bracing ourselves for the worst, we noticed that his eyes kept darting over to the choice board then back to me. This continued until it became quite apparent that it was not a seizure, it was a request. When I held up the choice board he quieted, looked directly to the picture of your book, looked to me and attempted to laugh. Nearly in tears, realizing what had just happened, I praised him and read the story. He was laughing and smiling the entire time. That was the first time that he has EVER made an attempt at communication, let alone a request!”

No, I don’t believe in miracles,
but I do believe in picture books.

Judy Schachner

Judy Schachner

About Judy Schachner
Judy Schachner was born into an Irish Catholic working class family from New England. She can’t ever remember a time when she was not drawing and like most budding artists she doodled on everything, including her father’s bald head. She drew herself into stories where she was the smartest in her class and into a family where mothers lived to be a ripe old age.

Described by the New York Times as “…something like the James Joyce for the elementary school – set…”, Judy Schachner is the #1 New York Times Best Selling Author/Illustrator of over 24 books for children including Bits & Pieces, the Skippyjon Jones series, Yo Vikings, The Grannyman, and Willy and May. She has won many awards including the first E. B. White Read Aloud Award.

Picture Book Month Daily Theme: Cats & Dogs

Curriculum Connections

Snow White, Cinderella, The Three Pigs. These are all fairy tales that students can probably recite by heart.

In groups of 2-3, children will choose a fairy tale and retell the plot boiling it down to the following 8 steps:

Once upon a time _________________.
Along came trouble ________________.
First, __________________________________.
Then, _________________________________________.
Next, _________________________________________.
After that, _________________________________________.
Finally, _________________________________________.
They lived happily ever after.

Then, create a “live action illustration” or still picture of each of the 8 narration. The teacher should take a photograph of students in the image.

Using the iPad app “Explain Everything” or Voice Thread, students can add the 8 pieces of narration to the 8 digital images in order to create a slideshow of their retelling. Share the finished pieces with the rest of the group.

Correlates to the Common Core Reading Literature standards: RL.K.2, RL.1.2,3; Writing standards: W.K.3, W.1.3, W.2.3; Speaking and Listening standards SL.K.2, 5, 6, SL.1.2, 5, SL.2.2, 4, 5

LIBRARIANS and TEACHERS OF YOUNGER GRADES: Using the same 8 plot point prompts as above, retell a well-known fairy tale as a group. Encourage children to take turns acting out each plot point non-verbally.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Maria Bostian November 21, 2014 at 10:06 pm

Oh that post made me want to laugh and cry. What a wonderful break through for this child. I’m sure the teacher’s storytelling skills had something to do with it, too.

Happy tale! Very inspiring!


:Donna November 23, 2014 at 10:24 pm

Judy, I can only imagine how heartwarming and fulfilling that had to feel when you heard that. Talk about touching a life! Thank you for sharing that with us 🙂


Judy Schachner November 24, 2014 at 3:50 pm

Thank you Donna and Maria – It was one of the best letters I’ve ever received. My husband still can’t read it without tearing up. And thanks to the teachers who never give up!


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