Why Picture Books Are Important by Julie Gribble

by Dianne on November 15, 2015

Julie Gribble book cover

Why Picture Books Are Important by Julie Gribble
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Do you remember being read to as a child? I remember. I remember the sound of my father’s voice, the warmth of his arm wrapped around me, and a picture book completing that circle of a hug.

At that moment, when you are being read to, the outside world melts away, and it’s just the two of you in your story world — an intimate setting in a universe of possibilities.

One of my favorites was Dr. Seuss’ first children’s book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, a story about an imaginative child who describes his day to his father when he comes home from school.

I noticed there were no girls in it. Not one. The police, the band members, the Mayor, were all boys. My dad assured me that a girl could be on the police force, she could play in a band, and she could most certainly be Mayor. He told me that I could be anything when I grew up. That was important for a six-year-old girl to hear.

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But my solution was to change the book. Marco became Maria; the bandleader and police were girls with long hair, even the Mayor became a girl with a mustache. It wasn’t enough to hear the world could be different when I grew up. I needed to see myself in it, right then and there, in the pages of my book. Because at that moment, when I was being read to, that book was my world.

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That little picture book sparked a conversation about a big social issue. I don’t think that was Theodor Geisel’s intent. But it’s a conversation I’m glad I had with my dad.

Julie Gribble headshot

About Julie Gribble
Julie Gribble creates and produces works for children and the children’s literature community in both the United States and Great Britain. She founded KidLit TV to help connect children’s book creators to their readers. She’s been nominated for two Emmy Awards and is a multi award-winning writer, screenwriter, filmmaker, and producer. Her charming picture book, Bubblegum Princess, is based on a true story about Kate Middleton and was released on the day the royal baby, who we now know as Prince George, arrived. Julie sits on the Children’s Committee of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts: BAFTA-NY. KidLit TV, winner of the Parents’ Choice Gold Award, is a diverse group of parents, educators, librarians, kid lit creators, and award winning filmmakers all working together to bring great books to kids! Our mission is to create fun new ways to reinforce an appreciation of reading that children will carry with them for the rest of their lives.

Literacy Activity
Nov 15 ~ Books

“Picture books lend themselves nicely to technical writing assignments, including but not limited to letters to authors or illustrators, book reviews, research papers based on a theme found within the story.” (from the Picture Book Month Teacher’s Guide: Why Picture Book Belong in Our Classrooms by Marcie Colleen, 2013).

Libraries are really special and often in need of extra help or funding. As a class, brainstorm a list of ways to help your local community or school library. Ideas can include volunteering to reshelve books or to read to younger kids, or raise money through a bake sale or book drive. Students can also write thank you letters to the library, create a “Why I Love the Library” bulletin board, or throw a Library Appreciation Party.

Suggested reading:
Where Are My Books? by Debbie Ridpath Ohi
The Jacket by Kirsten Hall, illustrated by Dasha Tolstikova
Books For Me! by Sue Fliess, illustrated by Mike Laughead
A Library Book for Bear by Bonny Becker, illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton
Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes
The Midnight Library by Kozuno Kohara
There’s a Dragon in the Library by Dianne de Las Casas

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

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

C.L. Murphy November 15, 2015 at 9:53 am

We love how your father reassured you at an early age that girls could do anything boys could do, and that you took immediate action to make it so.

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Julie November 15, 2015 at 4:43 pm

He taught me how to throw a ball — like a girl!

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Donna McDine November 15, 2015 at 4:59 pm

Terrific post! I fondly remember reading with my parents and thinking I can do this!!

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Julie November 29, 2015 at 3:32 am

Thank you, Donna. I appreciate your comment!

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:Donna November 15, 2015 at 11:21 pm

What a wonderful father, Julie 🙂 And I’m thinking BATTLE BUNNY has some very fierce competition here! 😀 Love this!

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Julie November 16, 2015 at 12:41 am

He was a sweetie.
Ah, BB is one of my all time favs, Donna.

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Kristin November 16, 2015 at 12:44 pm

I love the picture of you as a child reading with you father. Very sweet! And I love that your father reassured you, helping you sweep away the road blocks in your path :).

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Julie November 29, 2015 at 3:48 am

Thank you, Kristin. Picture books can spark unexpected conversations and even controversy. I welcome the opportunity to talk about issues important to children, and I’m grateful that my dad did, too.

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