Why Picture Books Are Important by Whitney Stewart

by Dianne on November 14, 2015

Whitney Stewart book cover

Why Picture Books Are Important by Whitney Stewart
Children learn early the importance of connection, color, sound, and story. These are the seeds to grow a life. We can do without one or the other but never without all four. Such essential human ingredients shape our minds, our hearts, and our lives. And picture books are built on them.

As a child, I made deep emotional connections with picture book characters and felt their wounds. I winced when Francis cut his finger in Doctor Dan at the Circus, a Golden Book still on my shelf. I balled up my fists when the Shiny New Engine refused to pull the little train over the mountain but cheered when the Little Blue Engine could. My strongest emotional memories are tied to Virginia Lee Burton’s The Little House. How could anyone neglect a sweet, loving house? Will someone save her from losing the open sky? And then someone did. Ah! My heart still skips a beat when all is “quiet and peaceful in the country” again.

My musician son says our nightly bedtime stories ignited his creative mind and kept him immersed in imaginative thought. “This was invaluable and I can’t imagine not reading stories to my own children some day.” My husband says picture books took him into fantasies he never imagined and made the impossible seem real.

In 1942, Virginia Lee Burton wrote a line in The Little House that highlights another perfect reason to share picture books today: “Everyone seemed to be very busy and everyone seemed to be in a hurry.” Burton knew the importance of slowing down — no better reason for pulling out a picture book, getting cozy with a child, and connecting with color, sound, and story. You’ll fire up your brain, heighten your emotions, and make the impossible seem real.

Whitney Stewart

About Whitney Stewart
Whitney Stewart published her first award-winning biography after interviewing the Dalai Lama in India. She trekked with Sir Edmund Hillary in Nepal, interviewed Aung San Suu Kyi in Burma, and traveled to China to write about Deng Xiaoping and Mao Zedong. She is the author of three middle-grade novels and multiple nonfiction books, including Who Was Walt Disney? Stewart’s most recent picture books are A Catfish Tale, a bayou retelling of Grimms’ Fisherman and His Wife, and Meditation is an Open Sky: Mindfulness for Kids (both from Albert Whitman). Learn more about Whitney Stewart here:

Website: http://www.whitneystewart.com
WWII Travel Series: http://www.travelgumbo.com/blog/
Blog: http://whitneystewart.com/news/

Literacy Activity
Nov 14 ~ Forest/Swamps

Picture books teach the universality of many experiences. (from the Picture Book Month Teacher’s Guide: Why Picture Book Belong in Our Classrooms by Marcie Colleen, 2013).

Did you know you could travel the world in the pages of a picture book? Create a classroom library of books that take place in climates and cultures unlike your own. And then locate the settings on a world map. It’s a wonderful way to get your passport stamped!

Suggested reading:
A Catfish Tale: A Bayou Story of the Fisherman and His Wife by Whitney Stewart, illustrated by Gerald Guerlais
Gator Gumbo by Candace Fleming, illustrated by Sally Anne Lambert
Petite Rouge: A Cajun Red Riding Hood by Mike Artell, illustrated by Jim Harris
The Cajun Cornbread Boy by Dianne De Las Casas, illustrated by Marita Gentry

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 15, 2015 at 11:37 pm

Oh, the irreplaceable, invaluable picture book—couldn’t be more true, Whitney. And how wonderful to hear that from your son 🙂 I love Virginia Lee Burton, too. GO, Little House and Mike!


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