Why Picture Books Are Important by Robin Preiss Glasser
About ten days before the horrific tornado that devastated Moore, Oklahoma, in 2013, I visited with the town’s school children to read my latest Fancy Nancy picture book. As at many of the places where I present, the children came all dressed up to share the experience of “being fancy” and we had a delightful afternoon of stories and laughter. So the photographs that came soon afterwards of the two elementary schools, Briarwood and Plaza Towers, completely flattened by the tornado, and the devastating news of the seven young lives lost, shook me to my core.
A photograph that really hit home was of the former school library — all walls collapsed and books thrown every which way. Having just seen the joy the children of Moore, Oklahoma, had taken in entering the world of my picture book, and then seeing what happened so frighteningly to their own world, I wanted to help bring back to them the wonder, adventure, comfort, or escapism that a good picture book can provide. In the few pages of an illustrated book, whole worlds are brought to life, and I knew that the creators of those special worlds — children’s book authors and illustrators — would want to help the children of Oklahoma once again be transported through the pages of a picture book.
Hundreds of authors and illustrators responded to my request for signed copies of their best work and we also raised funds — some even from other school children — to purchase volumes specifically requested by the heroic school librarians. In August of this year, 1,200 autographed books traveled to Oklahoma to be shelved within the walls of the two new school libraries. And we celebrated. We dressed up fancy and we read stories. And stories, and these picture books, will hopefully help bring a little healing to a community that has been through so much.
About Robin Preiss Glasser
Robin Preiss Glasser, the Children’s Book Council’s “2013 Illustrator of the Year,” has had two successful careers, the first as a ballet dancer. After 11 years performing with the Pennsylvania Ballet, Robin returned to school at age 30, receiving her BFA from Parsons The New School for Design. From her first book, Judith Viorst’s Alexander, Who’s Not (Do You Hear Me? I mean It!) Going to Move, through numerous others with such authors as Lynne Cheney, Garrison Keillor, and Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, it is the years Robin spent studying dance that have infused her illustration style with movement and joy. In 2005, Robin was paired with author Jane O’Connor for the now classic Fancy Nancy series, which includes more than 60 books, has been on the New York Times Bestseller list for more than 350 weeks and has sold over 27 million volumes. Robin has two grown children, Sasha and Ben, and lives in San Juan Capistrano, California, with her husband, attorney Bob Berman, and their dog, Boo.
Picture Book Month Daily Theme: Royalty
What do you think “fancy” means?
Do you know someone who could use a fancy celebration? Maybe someone who hasn’t been feeling well or has been working really hard? A teacher? A parent? A friend? Your pet?
Brainstorm a list of ways to celebrate these individuals and help them feel “fancy.”
Create a greeting card to send them. Decorate it in the fanciest of ways and include a greeting to make the recipient feel special. Be sure to tell the person why you think they deserve to be feel fancy. For extra fun, dress up fancy when you deliver the card!
Correlates to the Common Core Writing standards: W.K.2, W.1.2, W.2.2, W.3.4, W.4.4, W.5.4; Language standards: L.K.5c, L.1.5c, L.2.5a, L.3.5b