Why Picture Books Are Important by Julie Hedlund

by Dianne on November 8, 2015


Why Picture Books Are Important by Julie Hedlund
Forgive me for the sap that is to follow, but picture books are important because they are love. First, there is the love that the author and illustrator put into their creation. Next comes the love of a parent, relative, or cherished adult holding a child and voicing that love through the words of a picture book (yes, even the funny, silly, or gross ones!). After that comes the love children feel for their favorite characters, and then – the finale – the love of reading.

Once a child loves reading, all things become possible. They can go anywhere, be anyone, do anything.

One of my favorite books as a child was Eloise, by Kay Thompson. I grew up in a small town in Northern Michigan, which was obviously a far cry from the Plaza Hotel in New York City. Did the fact that my life bore almost no resemblance to hers make me love her any less? Absolutely not!

I loved her imagination (brought to life by Hilary Knight’s brilliant illustrations), her pretend games, her penchant for trouble, and especially the sweetness that was underneath all that naughtiness. Speaking of naughty, I loved the fact that she was both naughty and a GIRL! She gave voice to the devious side of my good-girly self.

I loved Eloise so much, I read the book hundreds of times throughout my childhood. She led me to other books about sweet-but-naughty girls (Ramona, anyone?) which led me to books, books, and more books of all types and categories as my interests grew and changed.

When I grew up, what did I do with the love of my parents who read to me, the love of my favorite characters, and the love of books and their creators?

I passed the love to my children, in the form of picture books.

Julie Hedlund headshot

About Julie Hedlund
Julie Hedlund is an award-winning children’s book author, founder of the 12 x 12 Picture Book Writing Challenge, blogger, and a regular speaker at SCBWI and other industry events. Her most recent book, My Love For You Is The Sun (Little Bahalia Pubishing, 2014) has been hailed as “belonging on the shelf between Guess How Much I Love You and Goodnight Moon. A Troop is a Group of Monkeys (Little Bahalia, 2013) first published as an interactive storybook app, was the recipient of the 2014 Independent Book Publisher’s Association Benjamin Franklin Digital Gold Award. Her storybook app, A Shiver of Sharks (Little Bahalia, 2013) was a 2014 Digital Book Award winner. Julie lives in Boulder, Colorado with her son and daughter and one huge hound dog high-maintenance enough to be considered a third child. Visit Julie at juliehedlund.com.

Literacy Activity
Nov 8 ~ Love

Picture books build empathy which is an important tool for navigating through society. (from the Picture Book Month Teacher’s Guide: Why Picture Book Belong in Our Classrooms by Marcie Colleen, 2013).

Sometimes picture books can express things that we don’t have the words to express ourselves—kinda like a greeting card. Gather together a library of picture books about love to use as mentor texts. Then, create your own picture book that expresses just how much you care for someone special in your life.

Suggested reading:

My Love For You is the Sun by Julie Hedlund, illustrated by Susan Eaddy
Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney, illustrated by Anita Jeram
Wherever You Are: My Love Will Find You by Nancy Tillman
Wag! by Patrick McDonnell

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

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Sylvia Liu November 8, 2015 at 11:53 am

I love this post– it’s all about the love! Thanks, Julie!


Charlotte Dixon November 8, 2015 at 11:59 am

I grew up with PB’s which live on in my heart today. Love your books, Julie 🙂


Julie Burchstead November 8, 2015 at 12:30 pm

This is a beautiful post, Julie. I couldn’t agree with you more. We help children find beauty, meaning, connection, hope, humor, and teach them out the world through picture books. They are truly a labor and a gift of love.


Julie Burchstead November 8, 2015 at 12:31 pm



Johnell November 8, 2015 at 2:23 pm

Well said, Julie.


Jarm Del Boccio November 8, 2015 at 2:27 pm

Sweet thoughts, Julie. . .and you are certainly passing the love along!


Debra Shumaker November 8, 2015 at 3:02 pm

Julie, I LOVE this post! I couldn’t agree more.


Gabrielle Snyder November 8, 2015 at 6:45 pm

I agree! Sometimes we love a PB so much in part because it offers a window into a life utterly different from our own. Well said, Julie!


Carrie Charley Brown November 8, 2015 at 6:55 pm

You know we share hat passiin and love for picture books, Julie. 🙂 I have yet to write a lovey dove story, so this is great! Challenge accepted!


Carrie Charley Brown November 8, 2015 at 6:57 pm

*that passion. *lovey dovey Ugh! Typing on a phone is not my strong suit!


:Donna November 10, 2015 at 12:31 am

Julie, picture books ARE “love” 🙂 Just as the Greeks have specific words for the types of love, you’ve broken it down here in much the same way. Picture books ARE these many kinds of love…and more. Aren’t we lucky? 😀


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