Why Picture Books Are Important by Elizabeth Bluemle

by Dianne on November 20, 2016

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Why Picture Books Are Important by Elizabeth Bluemle
As a picture book author who also owns a bookstore, I have the remarkable pleasure of seeing thousands of people a year connect with picture books. Gruff old men come to the store, barking out, “I suppose you don’t have ‘Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel!” Then, when we happily hand them a copy, their faces transform into the five-year-old boy they once were. They feel the magic all over again.

It’s almost miraculous, the reaction people have to books that meant something to them as children. The pull is beyond words; it’s visceral. It operates at the level of the heart. Often people are surprised by the strength of their own attachment. “I don’t know why I loved this book SO MUCH,” they’ll often say, “but I was obsessed.”

I know that for me, picture books were real. I entered the forest of Max’s jungle room and swung on the vines with the friendly-scary monsters. Ferdinand the Bull was my friend, who taught me the power of gentleness and honoring one’s true nature. I adored Corduroy, and my heart pounded with Ping’s misadventures. Eloise and Frances the badger were my naughty alter egos. The list of my picture book heroes goes on and on.

So when children quote my books to me, or dance exuberant ‘wokkas,’ or riff on my words with their own inventive lines, I feel so lucky to be a small part of this wild and capacious art form—and to press my childhood favorites into their hands.

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About Elizabeth Bluemle
Elizabeth Bluemle is the award-winning author of four picture books with Candlewick Press: My Father the Dog and How Do You Wokka-Wokka? (both illustrated by Randy Cecil), Dogs on the Bed (illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf), and Tap Tap Boom Boom (illustrated by G. Brian Karas). She is also the co-owner of The Flying Pig Bookstore in Shelburne, Vermont, and blogs about children’s bookselling for Publishers Weekly. Websites: www.elizabethbluemle.comwww.flyingpigbooks.com, and http://blogs.publishersweekly.com/blogs/shelftalker/

Literacy Activity
November 20 – Weather

“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 Picture Book Month Teacher’s Guide: Why Picture Books Belong in Our Classrooms by Marcie Colleen, 2013).

Have a weather chart in the classroom that includes information on the attire and protective gear necessary for different weather conditions. Partner this weather chart with a classroom library containing selections of books on different weather conditions.

Suggested reading

Come on Rain by Karen Hesse, pictures by John J. Muth
Hurricane by David Wiesner
On the Same Day in March by Marilyn Singer
The Story of Snow The Science of Winter’s Wonder by Mark Cassino
The Cloud Book by Tomie dePaola

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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