Why Picture Books Are Important by Rene Colato Lainez

by Dianne on November 27, 2014

Rene Colato Lainez cover

Why Picture Books Are Important by René Colato Laínez
A picture book is a window to the imagination. A window that is always opened to explore new worlds, meet new friends and live great adventures. A window that can be kept next to a pillow, in a bookshelf, on a dinner table, on a desk or on your favorite sofa. There is no need for a magic key or to say a secret code, all you need to do is to open it with your fingers and the real magic begins.

A picture book is for children of all ages, from babies to one hundred years old children. I read my first picture books in Spanish in my native country, El Salvador. My favorite picture books were The Three Little Pigs, Little Red Riding Hood and Jack and the Beanstalk. When I came to the United States as a teenager and I was learning English in high school, I began to read these picture books in English and even though I could not understand every word on the books, I used my imagination to complete the story that was still so vivid in my mind. Now I am teacher and I read picture books to children, parents and grandparents. I can see the same joy in everyone’s eyes and the same smile in their faces. Yes, a picture book is an open window that all children of the world can enjoy, no matter how old they are.

I wrote the following letter to a group of students in an elementary school at Denver, Colorado. The students asked me: “Where did you read your picture books when you were a child?”

This was my answer:

Dear children:

When I was a child, my favorite place in the house was a corner where I always found a rocking chair. I rocked myself back and forth while I read a picture book. Soon the rocking chair became a magic flying carpet that took me to many different places. I met new friends. I lived great adventures. On many occasions, I was able to touch the stars. All the picture books I read transported me into the entire universe.

Books inspired me! I also wanted to write about the wonderful world that I visited in my readings. I started to write my own stories, poems and adventures in my diary. Every time I read and revised my stories, I found new adventures to tell about. Now, I write children’s books and it is an honor to share my books with children around the world.

I invite you to travel with me. Pick up a picture book and you will find wonders. Picture books are full of adventures, friends, and fantastic places. Read and reach for the stars.

René Colato Laínez

About René Colato Laínez
René Colato Laínez is the Salvadoran award-winning author of many children’s multicultural children’s books. He is a graduate of the Vermont College MFA program in Writing for Children & Young Adults and an elementary school teacher in Los Angeles, California. His goal as an author is to produce good multicultural children’s literature; stories where minority children are portrayed in a positive way, where they can see themselves as heroes, and where they can dream and have hopes for the future. He wants to write authentic stories of Latin American children living in the United States. Visit him at www.renecolatolainez.com.

Picture Book Month Daily Theme: Holidays

Curriculum Connections

Celebrate geography and language with Rene Colato’s Lainez’s Senor Pancho Had a Rancho. This bilingual version of “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” introduces the Spanish language of both people and animals. Yes, even animals speak differently in other languages!

Using the following link as a reference, http://www.eleceng.adelaide.edu.au/Personal/dabbott/animal.html, pick an animal and a language and write an original verse to a unique version of “Old MacDonald Had a Farm.” Locate the country where this language is spoken on a globe or map.

Create a bulletin board display of the new verses linking them to their countries of origin.

A Note about Common Core: Although other languages are not necessarily included as part of the Common Core, the fundamentals found in Language standards–Knowledge of Language and Vocabulary Acquisition and Use are definitely at the heart of this activity. Likewise, this activity may be adapted to teach English vocabulary to ESL students, which would align with the CCSS.

LIBRARIANS and TEACHERS OF YOUNGER GRADES: Children may draw a picture of their favorite animal from Senor Pancho Had a Rancho and label it with its Spanish name.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

:Donna November 27, 2014 at 1:05 am

Rene, thank you for sharing this with us! Such warming visions you painted with your words, especially that first paragraph—a real testament to the picture book form and that all you have to do is open it and turn the page for the “magic.” Gracias, Rene! 🙂


elahe kasmaei November 27, 2014 at 4:52 am

thank you


Kelly Ramsdell Fineman November 27, 2014 at 9:25 am

I love the way you phrased things in this post, René, and especially like the letter you sent to the Denver schoolchildren. Thanks!


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