Why Picture Books Are Important by Marita Gentry

by Dianne on November 6, 2016


Why Picture Books Are Important by Marita Gentry
Some of my favorite childhood memories include picture books. I am one of four siblings… we are very close together in age. We had a wonderful family, lots of laughter and love. Still as a child I needed lots of alone time( and still do as an adult). Pictures books were my first escape as a child. I loved the expanse of my own world with new cites, farms, animals that wore clothes, and crazy characters. Quietly sitting absorbing all the drawings, turning the page and running my hand across the thick paper as I touched all the lines. I was fascinated by all the colors and the way the cities fit together and the different characters.  I liked how different each character was, straight hair, hair that stuck our with curls.  I liked the whimsical drawings of some and fantasy of others. I think the time to quietly sit and absorb was the beginning of my creative journey.

As an adult I have an extensive collection of books. The largest grouping would be all the children books I have collected. I still sit in front of my shelves and look at the pictures more than I read the books. I run my hand over the thick paper and touch all the lines. Who knew, one day I would have the privilege to illustrate for children. I still love the whimsical and the fantasy. I love inventing all the details. Children need to run their hand across the paper and touch all the lines. They need to sit quietly and imagine a different world where all the words rhyme, or maybe the cat talks, or the frog is a king. This can be the beginning of their creative journey teaching them to expand their world.


About Marita Gentry
Marita Gentry is an artist, an illustrator, and a teacher. She has illustrated over ten picture books working with Dianne de LasCasas on many of them. “The Cajun Cornbread Boy” being a favorite . Marita has spent over 15 years teaching art in many different schools. She loves helping young minds explore the idea of creating a new and wonderful world. Marita currently lives in South Louisiana illustrating and creating large paintings in her studio. To learn more visit www.maritagentry.com

Literacy Activity
November 6 – Food

“Picture books help students make sense of the world.” (from Picture Book Month Teacher’s Guide: Why Picture Books Belong in Our Classrooms by Marcie Colleen, 2013).

Use a story map that has the beginning, the middle and the end of a story. Have students write or draw the events of the story as they listen to your read aloud. After the read aloud, ask students to pick a partner to share and talk about their story maps.

Suggested reading:
A Fine Dessert by Emily Jenkins, illustrated by Sophie Blackall
Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey
Sharing the Bread: An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving Story by Pat Zietlow Miller, illustrated by Jill McElmurry
Pancakes for Breakfast by Tomie dePaola
Apple pie 4th of July by Janet S. Wong

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!

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Lucy Jackson November 6, 2016 at 9:30 pm

I am honored to enjoy the friendship of Marita Gentry. She is a phenomenal artist, and a dear and precious person. I, too, believe that picture books are most important to all of us, especially to little people. I made it a priority to read to my children, so much that by the time they could talk, they could recite their favorite books, as I held them and turned the pages.
Thank you for honoring Marita Gentry in this way. I know of no other who is as deserving as she.


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