Why Picture Books Are Important by Matthew Gollub

by Dianne on November 3, 2015

Matthew Gollub book cover

Why Picture Books Are Important by Matthew Gollub
It was the challenge of combining words and images that first attracted me to the picture book field. I saw picture book makers as part of a long line of thinkers. Cave drawings, ancient scrolls and Mayan codices had come first, but the creators of each medium had to address the same questions: what to communicate with words and pictures, how, and to whom?

Now that I’m in the field, here’s why I feel passionately that every child should have plenty of picture books at home. In a world over-stimulated by electronic media, the picture book remains a critical entrée to reading. And reading offers a short-cut to language development and knowledge of the world. Picture book imagery both delights and provides context. Vocabulary, colloquial phrases, word play and dialect—all the things that make language vibrant and familiar—await discovery. No wonder literacy experts recommend that children experience 1,000 books before kindergarten!

Often, I reflect on how much value picture books retain. Most picture books remain relevant for years, sometimes decades. In our home, many of our son’s most treasured books still reside in bins under his bed. Some of the books were given to him by his babysitter when he was small. Some of those books had been passed down to the babysitter by her mom!

Unlike their electronic cousins, traditional picture books engage readers simply, without computers or tablets, without costly data plans, without pop up ads, without flickering screens. They are, however, designed to be enjoyed through human interface. So stock these early examples of the “sharing economy” in classrooms. Circulate them through libraries until the spines begin to split. When Josue outgrows his book, encourage him to give it to Madison down the block. Read picture books, give them as presents and personally dedicate them with love.

Matthew Gollub headshot

About Matthew Gollub
Matthew Gollub was born in Los Angeles and graduated from the University of the Pacific. “Language, rhythm, color, life!” is his credo he uses to guide his creative life. Both a traditional author and publisher, he has created 18 works which together have garnered 25 national awards and distinctions. His musical narrations on audio CD accompany some of his most popular books including The Jazz Fly and Jazz Fly 2: The Jungle Pachanga. A dynamic drummer and bilingual presenter, he has performed at over 1,000 schools and conferences, He lives with his family in Santa Rosa, California.

Literacy Activity
Nov 3 ~ Insects

“Literature takes us to places we cannot go when inside a classroom; and additionally, through the use of illustrations and photographs picture books can show us places we are unable to go to ourselves.” (from the Picture Book Month Teacher’s Guide: Why Picture Book Belong in Our Classrooms by Marcie Colleen, 2013).

Ever wonder what the world would look like if you were the size of a bug? Check out the illustrations in some fly picture books and then try your hand at drawing yourself as a bug in your school or home.

Suggested reading:

The Jazz Fly by Matthew Gollub, illustrated by Karen Hanke
The Jazz Fly 2 by Matthew Gollub, illustrated by Karen Hanke
Bug in a Vacuum by Melanie Watt
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Roberto the Insect Architect by Nina Laden

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!

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