Why Picture Books Are Important by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen

by Dianne on November 5, 2015

Sudipta Bardan-Quallen book cover

Why Picture Books Are Important by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen
When I was a young mother, I was told that I should talk to my baby all the time; that it was vital for language development. But even though I talk a lot, trying to continue a conversation for hours with someone who never talked back was a real challenge. So, like many parents, I turned to reading aloud to fill the time. Reading picture books became my conversations with my babies.

As it turned out, reading picture books was the way my children were introduced to the natural rhythms of conversation. Instead of Mommy’s unending soliloquy, they heard characters talking to each other and the give and take of dialogue. Instead of a monotonous summary of housekeeping and laundry (my life in those early days!), they heard the varied emotions contained in a story and what tension, conflict, and redemption sounded like – even without knowing the language.

Picture books are conversations, which later become relationships. I almost never read a picture book alone – at first, I read to my own children, and, more recently, to children around the world as a visiting author. Picture books are shared experiences – not just of language, but of literacy, of a love of reading, of various childhood experiences, of emotions, deep and true. Through picture books, I’ve been able to share with people I care for what it means to find your place in the world, to conquer loneliness or anger, to triumph over adversity, and to love.

Lastly, picture books are possibilities. Young children experience failure so much more than success – think of how many times a toddler falls before he can walk, or how many times a child falls off the bicycle before he can successfully ride one. It is a testament to the resiliency of childhood that all that failure doesn’t leave a child bitter by age five. I think that picture books can do a lot to nurture that resiliency. Every time we share a picture book with a child where the main character – who is almost always a proxy for that child reader – we show them how unlikely heroes can triumph, how doing right is rewarded, how dreams can come true. Without picture books, it would be harder to teach children to believe, to imagine, to dream.

In short, picture books are important.

Sudipta Bardan-Quallen headshot

About Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen
Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen went to school to become a doctor and somehow ended up writing books about talking animals. She is the author of over 40 books which include Duck Duck Moose, Tyrannosaurus Wrecks, Orangutangled, and Chicks Run Wild. Her books have been acclaimed by the Junior Library Guild, the California Reader’s Collection, the Bank Street Books Reading Committee, the Amelia Bloomer list, and many more. She lives in New Jersey with her family and an imaginary pony named Penny. Find out more about her by visiting her webiste sudipta.com or her blogs nerdychicksrule.com and nerdychickswrite.com.

Literacy Activity
Nov 5 ~ Pigs

“Picture books prompt a variety of creative writing assignments.” (from the Picture Book Month Teacher’s Guide: Why Picture Books Belong in Our Classroom by Marcie Colleen, 2013).

For centuries pigs have been popping up on the pages of children’s literature. Of course, the most popular pigs being those brilliant architects who are bullied by the Big Bad Wolf. But there are lots of other pigs taking center stage these days, all with their own personalities. So, open up a picture book featuring a pig (not The Three Little Pigs) and write a creative story in which the Big Bad Wolf comes to visit this pig character. How would they act differently? Use the personality of the pig character as the inspiration for your mashup tale.
Suggested reading:

Hampire by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, illustrated by Howard Fine
Pigs in the Mud in the Middle of the Road by Lynne Plourde
A Pig Parade is a Terrible Thing by Michael Ian Black, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes
The Princess and the Pig by Jonathan Emmett, illustrated by Polly Bernalene
What This Story Needs is a Pig in a Wig by Emma Virjan

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!

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

:Donna November 5, 2015 at 11:10 am

SO beautifully stated, Sudipta. Thank you! 😀

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Sudipta November 5, 2015 at 7:16 pm

Thank you for reading!

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C.L. Murphy November 5, 2015 at 1:31 pm

“Mommy’s unending soliloquy” made me squeal. A pigalicious post, Sudipta!

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Sudipta November 5, 2015 at 7:16 pm

Well, the kids did less squealing and more YAWNING!

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Carrie Charley Brown November 8, 2015 at 11:31 pm

This brought memories rushing back from when my first-born was a baby. I used to take him for strolls and deliver constant rolling monologues about everything we saw as we walked. The details of the leaves, the colors, the way the wind interacted, etc. When riding in the car, it was the same, or singing. And when at home, reading, reading, and more reading. Those were special times and his verbal abilities and vocabulary were huge at a very young age . Thanks for giving me pause to remember. It’s easy to forget as they get older, and also hard to remember that way it was before his siblings arrived.

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