Why Picture Books Are Important by Jeanie Ransom
When I was a child, bedtime meant story time. I was too young to know that the stories my parents read to me each night were called “picture books.” I just knew that they made me feel safe, secure, and very much loved. Even though my parents had a “three-books-at-bedtime” rule, it didn’t keep me from asking for one more.
Being immersed in picture books at an early age gave me deep roots as a reader, made me eager to learn, and set me up for success — in school as well as in life.
So when I became a parent, I made sure picture books were part of my children’s lives, right from the start. To be sure, babies may not be the most attentive — or appreciative — audience. They may even try to eat the book. But babies are more absorbent than the best diaper. Hearing the words sets into motion the whole wonderful, wonderous process of becoming a reader.
My baby boys are now young men, 20, 24, and 27. I’m proud to have raised three life-long readers. But I can’t take all the credit, nor would I. That belongs to picture books.
Although early childhood may be the most important time for picture books, it’s not the only time. Through my work as a picture-book author, school counselor, and child therapist, I’ve seen picture books do some pretty amazing things, and I wish I could share them with you. But I only have 300 words, so I’ll have to save those stories for another day. Just know this: getting the right book into the right hands at the right time can make all the difference.
Never underestimate the power of picture books. They’re personal yet universal. And they are very, very important.
About Jeanie Franz Ransom
Jeanie Franz Ransom is a picture book author and former elementary school counselor whose books include WHAT REALLY HAPPENED TO HUMPTY, a 2011 Children’s Choice award winner and one of Booklist’s “Top 100 Best Children’s and YA Mysteries of the Past Ten Years,” and THE CROWN AFFAIR, a 2016 Children’s Choices pick.
She has two new picture books this year: BIG RED AND THE LITTLE BITTY WOLF: A STORY ABOUT BULLYING, and THERE’S A CAT IN OUR CLASS! A TALE ABOUT GETTING ALONG, and her next book, COWBOY CAR, comes out in April 2017.
When Jeanie’s not writing – or reading – she’s speaking at schools, libraries, and conferences. She divides her time between O’Fallon, MO, and Northport MI, along with her husband, Bob, and two dogs, Nemo and Sadie.
November 12 – Cats
“Picture books help students develop empathy.”(from Picture Book Month Teacher’s Guide: Why Picture Books 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.
Mr. Wuffles by Davis Wiesner
Little Beauty by Anthony Brown
Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin and James Dean
Honda and Fabian by Peter McCarty
Fuddles by Frans Vischer
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!