Why Picture Books Are Important by Stephen Shaskan

by Dianne on November 19, 2015

Stephen Shaskan book cover

Why Picture Books Are Important by Stephen Shaskan
Picture books are important because they empower children. Picture books hold the power of language; children learn how words sound together, how to read, and how to form context. In Goodnight Moon, Margaret Wise Brown uses soft sounds to communicate a beautiful poetic bedtime story. David LaRochelle’s Moo! excites early readers as the story follows a car stealing cow on an adventure using only one word.

Picture books hold the power of story; they show children how fiction and nonfiction stories are crafted. Melinda Long’s How I Became a Pirate tells the tale of a child off on an adventure. Melissa Sweet’s Balloons Over Broadway expertly tells the true story of puppeteer Tony Sarg.

Picture books hold the power of visual literacy. Children learn to decipher visual clues. Donald Crews uses a graphic style of art in Freight Train naming each colored train car before the train starts its journey. Jan Brett’s beautifully rendered art in The Mitten contain details in the borders that foreshadow the story.

Picture books hold the power of imagination; giving children validation for their own imagination. In Crockett Johnson’s Harold and the Purple Crayon, Harold draws his own adventure creating the world around him. Antoinette Portis’ Not a Box explores all the adventures one can have with a cardboard box.

Picture books hold the power to think differently; children learn that it can be good to break the rules. Tom Willans creates a story within a story and adds an unexpected outcome in Wait! I Want to Tell You a Story! Jesse Klausmeier creates a story around a book within a book in Open This Little Book.

Most importantly picture books hold the power to let children know they matter. These beautiful, thoughtful, poetic, and imaginative works of literature and art were created for them. And children are important.

Stephen Shaskan headshot

About Stephen Shaskan
Stephen Shaskan is an author and illustrator, an early childhood educator, and a music maker. His debut picture book, A Dog is a Dog, was on New York Public Library’s Top 100 Books to Read and Share for 2011, and was a 2011 CCBC Choice. Stephen is also the author and illustrator of The Three Triceratops Tuff and is the illustrator of the soon to be released Punk Skunks written by his wife and fellow music maker Trisha Speed Shaskan. Stephen and his wife live in Minneapolis, Minnesota with their cat, Eartha, and their dog, Bea.

Literacy Activity
Nov 19 ~ Dogs

“Picture books help students develop empathy.” (from the Picture Book Month Teacher’s Guide: Why Picture Book Belong in Our Classrooms by Marcie Colleen, 2013).

Owning a pet can be a wonderful way to introduce a child to the way of care, compassion, and empathy. The same can be said for reading books! Create a classroom library all about pets. And then, embark on an imaginary journey to the animal shelter and write a story about the pet you would choose and why.

Suggested reading:
A Dog is a Dog by Stephen Shaskan
Shoe Dog by Megan McDonald, illustrated Katherine Tillotson
Gaston by Kelly DiPucchio, illustrated by Christian Robinson
Dogs by Emily Gravett

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!

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

:Donna November 20, 2015 at 10:51 pm

I say we all wear t-shirts that say “Picture Book POWER!” 😀 Great stuff, Stephen 🙂


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