Why Picture Books Are Important by Jodell Sadler

by Dianne on November 9, 2016


Why Picture Books Are Important by Jodell Sadler
As a child, I wondered if pages changed for others when they looked at picture books, found joy in searching for little hidden gems in the illustrations, and read Goldilocks and the Three Bears so often maybe only two others in my home town ever got the chance.

For me, there’s magic inside the pages of picture books. Picture books help kids embrace the world and discover the newness all around them. I love reading picture books with kids of all ages. As a teacher and professor from early ages through graduate level learners, I’ve share my pacing picture books study because there’s no better “condensed” learning guide for writers, readers, and lit lovers than picture books as Marcie Colleen’s article shares.

Picture books provide new characters, views and experiences. In last season’s Newbery Medal book, Last Stop on Market Street (Penguin Putnam, 2105) by Matt de la Peña, CJ discovers trees that drink through straws, meets a blind man who sees with his ears, and he gets lost in the sounds around him—that “feeling of magic” that allows him to find goodness in an unexpected place.

We look for new characters, strong concept, and fresh bents in picture books. We love spending time with characters we’ve never met. In Snow Beast Comes to Play (Roaring Brook Press, 2017) by Phil Gosier, a very LARGE, very LOUD and even a LITTLE clumsy Snow Beast fails at finding a new friend in miserably funny ways until his GINORMOUS heart entices Penny to give him a chance.

The best picture books beg readers to experience something new, something not seen before. This means writing to mind, heart and ear with a focus on perfect pacing while serving up a fresh concept, voice, and character. Janine O’Malley, Executive Editor Farrar at Straus Children’s says, “I want books that … are character-driven yet pacey enough,” and I agree. Readers will hear the light and lovely lyrical language in Ann Whitford Paul crafted newest title: If Animals Said I Love You (Farrar, Straus Children’s, 2017).

“Pacey enough” is the gold standard, and pacing picture books well is a gift to writers, illustrators, readers, and writers, who want to learn how to unfold story using a keen balance of both pause and pacing inside a picture book. It’s magic.


About Jodell Sadler
Jodell Sadler, founder of KidLit College and Sadler Literary, loves picture books. She’s studied Pacing Picture Books since 2007 and enjoys sharing her material with writers and illustrators and helping them publish. A professor, secondary teacher and presenter with Writers Digest University, she is excited to share her love of picture books during Picture Book Month. Her involvement and initiatives in the development of picture books are as follows:

KIDLIT COLLEGE Picture Book Contest judged by Industry Picture Bookers

KIDLIT COLLEGE: 4-week Pacing Picture Book class with Jodell

KIDLIT COLLEGE: Developing Characters with Senior Editor Eve Adler, Dec. 3rd

Literacy Activity
November 9 – Reading / Books

“Picture books lend themselves nicely to technical writing assignments, including but not limited to letters to authors or illustrators, book reviews, research papers based on a theme found within the story.”(from Picture Book Month Teacher’s Guide: Why Picture Books Belong in Our Classrooms by Marcie Colleen, 2013).

Libraries are really special and often in need of extra help or funding. As a class, brainstorm a list of ways to help your local community or school library. Ideas can include volunteering to reshelve books or to read to younger kids, or raise money through a bake sale or book drive. Students can also write thank you letters to the library, create a “Why I Love the Library” bulletin board, or throw a Library Appreciation Party.

Suggested reading:
Lola Loves Stories by Anna McQuinn, illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw
I Will Not Read This Book by Cece Meng, illustrated by Joy Ang
Reading Makes You Feel Good by Todd Parr
Read It, Don’t Eat It! by Ian Schoenherr
Wild About Books by Judy Sierra, illustrated by Marc Brown
A Library Book for Bear by Bonny Becker, illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton
Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes
The Midnight Library by Kozuno Kohara
There’s a Dragon in the Library by Dianne de Las Casas

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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