Why Picture Books Are Important by Robin Newman

by Dianne on November 18, 2015

Robin Newman book cover

Why Picture Books Are Important by Robin Newman
When I applied to kindergarten for my son, everyone was hoping their child would get a spot at a top school, myself included. Who doesn’t want the best for one’s child? During that process, I can’t tell you how many parents I met who shared with me how advanced their little Johnny was. He’s finished all seven volumes of Harry Potter and is moving on to Nietzsche. I hope he’s not behind. And all that I could think of was What’s the rush?

I want my child to be a lifelong reader. I want him to possess an independent love of reading. How does one do that? By slowing down. By reading to your child constantly. And by giving your child opportunities to discover books.

Picture books are the first step in that process. Picture books open children to ideas and help them explore new worlds. They help children use their imagination, develop skills as storytellers, and enrich their vocabulary. More importantly, they give tremendous joy.

In the interest of full disclosure, I didn’t become an avid reader until high school. But the books that have stayed with me throughout my entire life have been picture books. I never forgot the image of Babar’s mother being shot, or the shock of seeing Pierre being eaten by a lion, or wishing that my twin sister and I could be one of Madeline’s classmates. When we were six-years old, we used to run down the street chanting, “Boohoo, we want to have our appendix out, too!”

In this rat race, everyone wants to raise smart children. But sometimes slowing down is far more constructive than racing to the finish line.

So when asked why picture books are important, it’s a no brainer. The question is almost backwards. How are they not?

Robin Newman headshot

About Robin Newman
Robin Newman was a practicing attorney and legal editor, but she prefers to write about witches, mice, pigs, and peacocks. She is the author of The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake, A Wilcox & Griswold Mystery (Creston Books 2015), Hildie Bitterpickles Needs Her Sleep (Creston Books Spring 2016), and The Case of the Poached Egg, A Wilcox & Griswold Mystery (Creston Books Spring 2017). She lives in New York with her husband, son, and English Cocker Spaniel, who happens to have been born on the Fourth of July. Visit Robin at robinnewmanbooks.com

Literacy Activity
Nov 18 ~ Mice

“Although fiction picture books provide fantastical elements, these stories provide wonderful springboards for conversation about fact vs. fiction and can spark the desire for further research.” (from the Picture Book Month Teacher’s Guide: Why Picture Book Belong in Our Classrooms by Marcie Colleen, 2013).

Mice are common characters in children’s books. But what is it about mice that make them so appealing? Have students conduct research on the characteristics of real mice and then compare what they find with their favorite mice characters in books. Are there any similarities? What about the differences? Why do you think the author chose a mouse as a character for this particular story? How would the story be different if it was a story about a bear instead of a mouse?

Suggested reading:
A Wilcox and Griswold Mystery: The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake by Robin Newman, illustrated by Deborah Zemke
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff, illustrated Felicia Bond
The Lion & the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney
By Mouse and Frog by Deborah Freedman

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!

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

:Donna November 18, 2015 at 1:53 am

I love how you pose the question, Robin—how are picture books NOT important? So perfect, so obvious—I wish all people could see what is obvious, but they’re blinded by their false sense of intellectualism, fear and competitiveness.

And I’m thinking Wilcox and Griswold had a bit of input with this post. After all, who would know better about a “rat race,” right? 😉

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C.L. Murphy November 18, 2015 at 10:35 am

Great reminder to not rush our children and let them develop on their own terms with lots of encouragement (and picture books).

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Kim Pfennigwerth November 18, 2015 at 12:53 pm

Loved this post, Robin!

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Mike Allegra November 18, 2015 at 3:34 pm

My son was reading Kafka at three! Hm. Maybe that’s why he’s so mopey.

After reading your story, Robin, I head myself say “amen.” What’s the rush, indeed?

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