Why Picture Books Are Important by Anne Marie Pace

by Dianne on November 9, 2015

Anne Marie Pace book cover

Why Picture Books Are Important by Anne Marie Pace
According to my baby book, my first sentence was “Please read.” By the time my oldest was eighteen months old, it was pretty clear that reading was going to play as big a part in her young life as it had in mine. I’d plop her on my lap with a foot-tall stack of picture books to one side, and we’d read through them all. And then we’d do it again. When her sister came along, I put one girl on each knee. When Numbers Three and Four were born, we just squeezed them in.

I laugh now whenever I see articles extolling the necessity of bedtime stories. At bedtime, I sent my kids to bed. We’d had stories all day long.

Obviously the amount of time my kids and I spent reading together shows that I thought, and I still think, that picture books are important. But why do I think picture books are important?

My friend Corrie Kelly, a reading specialist and teacher education instructor at Longwood University, says this: picture books “are normally part of children’s first real independent book experiences. While oral storytelling helps them grow a love of hearing stories, picture books are the start to helping them grow a love of WRITTEN stories. Plus, from a reading specialist’s perspective, the use of picture cues in learning to read is one of the first strategies we teach our young readers.”

Corrie’s not wrong. We all want our kids to be good readers. We know reading well is a major key to school success, and plays a big part in life success as well. And for that alone, reading picture books to kids is important.

But I think my friend Carol Krohn’s answer to my question approaches something deeper, or at least something that strikes ME more viscerally. Carol’s sons are eighteen and twenty years old, long past traditional picture book age (unless you are like me, of course), and she said this: “I missed picture books terribly when my kids got too old for them, and I remember pretty much forcing the boys to still read them with me.” Now, Carol could have read those picture books by herself. So perhaps it wasn’t the physical books that she missed. The books still existed in her library. She missed the intimacy of a shared reading experience, adult with child—that wonder, that comfort, that amazement.

Simply put, picture books are hugs. They are the most wonderful kind of story-filled, emotion-driven, mushy-loving, crazy-laughing, best-sort-of hug. They are hugs from parent to child, from teacher to students, from author and illustrator to reader. Those hugs are why I said, “Please read.” Those hugs are why I write.

Anne Marie Pace headshot

About Anne Marie Pace
Despite the oft-quoted adage to write what you know, Anne Marie Pace has never been a bear, a vampire, a pig, or a ballerina. She is the author of the Vampirina Ballerina series, illustrated by LeUyen Pham, and published by Disney-Hyperion, as well as two original paperbacks for Scholastic Book Clubs, Never Ever Talk to Strangers and A Teacher for Bear, both about bears. Coming soon are Pigloo (illustrated by Lorna Hussey, published by Henry Holt, 2016), Big-Eyed Bug (illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon, published by Beach Lane Books/Simon and Schuster, 2018), and Groundhug Day (illustrated by Christopher Denise, published by Disney-Hyperion, 2018). She is an active member of SCBWI. She lives in Virginia with her husband, four teenagers, and two ill-behaved dogs.

Literacy Activity
Nov 9 ~ Dance

Picture books are meant to be read-aloud, which automatically makes them a social experience. (from the Picture Book Month Teacher’s Guide: Why Picture Book Belong in Our Classrooms by Marcie Colleen, 2013).

As a class, create a script of a picture book to act out the events in the book. Assign roles, sometimes having more than one student share a role through choral speaking. Emphasize body motion and facial expressions, as well as listening skills.

Suggested reading:

Vampirina Ballerina by Anne Marie Pace, illustrated by LeUyen Pham
Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae, illustrated by Guy Parker-Rees
Frances Dean Who Loved to Dance and Dance by Birgitta Sif
Rupert Can Dance by Jules Feiffer
Firebird by Misty Copeland, illustrated by Christopher Myers

Be sure to download the Picture Book Month Teacher’s Guide: Why Picture Books Belong in Our Classroom for more engaging ideas and activities to bring picture books into the ELA, Math, Science, and Social Studies curriculum!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

:Donna November 10, 2015 at 12:35 am

Marie, I just LOVE how you spent that much time reading to your kids 😀 😀 😀


:Donna November 10, 2015 at 12:37 am

Sorry, I meant ANNE Marie! 😀


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