Why Picture Books Are Important by Lester L. Laminack

by Dianne on November 29, 2016

Why Picture Books Are Important by Lester L. Laminack
Though young people can speak into a phone or a tablet and gain access to information in record time there is no substitute for the bond between a child, a book, and a significant adult. The power of sitting together in a big chair with one well chosen book spread across two laps is one that can not be duplicated by an electronic device. Picture books remain an essential tool in the process of bringing children into a life of reading.

When young children become fascinated with a new topic and begin delving into the world of books to explore more deeply they often turn to picture books. Picture books have the power to captivate our eyes and ears in ways that spark the imagination to move us along with a character through time and space. In ways like no other print format can, illustrations in picture books lift and enrich the story line while giving support and depth to fresh vocabulary.

Picture books allow us to delve in, to explore from a safe distance that which is unfamiliar, thrilling or even frightening. The format affords us a threshold experience with little or no background required. Through a picture book students can explore the hottest and driest desert terrain from a table in a classroom nestled in the mountains of North Carolina even while the snow falls silently outside the window. Through picture books we are able to find others like ourselves and explore the lives of others we had not yet imagined.

Picture books allow us access with opportunity to visit once and step back to reflect, converse, question, and come back again with new and more specific interest. The opportunity to reflect and revisit again and again helps us slowly build our insights and deepen our understandings, to linger with a scene, focus on a character, or just pause a moment in the setting and let the story wash over us again.

Picture books, by their very design, allow young children to step into story on the lap of an adult creating a bond between books and children extending outward from the bond between the child and the adult.

About Lester L. Laminack
Lester L. Laminack is Professor Emeritus, Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, North Carolina where he received two awards for excellence in teaching [the Botner Superior Teaching Award and the Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award]. Lester is now a full-time writer and consultant working with schools throughout the United States. He is an active member of the National Council of Teachers of English and served three years as co-editor of the NCTE journal Primary Voices and as editor of the Children’s Book Review Department of the NCTE journal Language Arts (2003-2006). He also served as a teaching editor for the magazine Teaching K-8 and wrote the Parent Connection column (2000-2002). He is a former member of the Whole Language Umbrella Governing Board, a former member of the Governing Board and Secretary of the North Carolina Association for the Education of Young Children, and a former member of the Board of Directors for the Center for the Expansion of Language and Thinking. He served as the Basic Reading Consultant to Literacy Volunteers of America from 1987 through 2001 and is a former member of the Board of Directors of Our Children’s Place. He is the incoming editor of the Writing Department for the ILA journal Reading Teacher.

His academic publications include several books including Learning with Zachary (Scholastic), Spelling in Use (NCTE), Volunteers Working with Young Readers (NCTE), and his contributions to The Writing Workshop: Working Through the Hard Parts (NCTE), Learning Under the Influence of Language and Literature (Heinemann) Reading Aloud Across the Curriculum (Heinemann), Climb Inside a Poem (Heinemann) Cracking Open the Author’s Craft (Scholastic), Unwrapping the Read Aloud (Scholastic), Bullying Hurts: Teaching Kindness Through Read Aloud and Guided Conversations (Heinemann), and The Writing Teacher’s Troubleshooting Guide (Heinemann). In addition he has several articles published in journals such as The Reading Teacher, Science and Children, Language Arts, Primary Voices, and Young Children. Lester is also the author of six children’s books: The Sunsets of Miss Olivia Wiggins, Trevor’s Wiggly-Wobbly Tooth, Saturdays and Tea Cakes, Jake’s 100th Day of School, Snow Day! and, Three Hens and a Peacock (2012 Children’s Choice K-2 Book of the Year Award), and two forthcoming titles, Voices for Civil Rights (Fall 2017) and The King of Bees (Spring 2018) all from Peachtree Publishers. His newest books for teachers, Writers ARE Readers: Flipping Reading Strategies into Writing Instruction (Heinemann), The Ultimate Read-Aloud Resource: Making Every Moment Intentional and Instructional with Best Friend Books (Scholastic) and The Best Friend Fiction Collection (Scholastic) are now available.

Literacy Activity
November 29 – Chickens

“Picture book illustrations lend themselves nicely to counting exercises. (how many apples can you find?)”(from Picture Book Month Teacher’s Guide: Why Picture Books Belong in Our Classrooms by Marcie Colleen, 2013).

When reading aloud, engage readers in the reading experience by focusing on objects in the book that can be counted or described in quantities. Model the thinking process involved in reading as well as skills in basic numeracy.

Suggested reading:
Chicky Chicky Chook Chook by Cathy MacLennan
Rosie’s Walk by Pat Hutchins
Daisy Comes Home by Jan Brett
Chicky Chicky Chook Chook by Cathy MacLennan
Little “Read” Hen by Dianne De Las Casas and Holly Stone-Barker
Madame Poulet and Monsieur Roach by Dianne De Las Casas and Marita Gentry

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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