Why Picture Books Are Important by Pat Cummings

by Dianne on November 7, 2016


Why Picture Books Are Important by Pat Cummings
Picture books put the world in your lap. A child can meet every animal in the zoo, learn each letter in the alphabet and get to know all of the colors of the rainbow with a picture book. Nothing is as wide open as a child’s imagination. And despite every new and scientifically-validated learning technique that appears, picture books seem to be the most wonderful pathway a child can follow into the world.

Picture books taught me how to play nice with others, what to expect when a little brother arrived, how to navigate the wild new world of elementary school. Arresting illustrations could pull me into a story and stories could be so engrossing that they painted images with words alone. Growing up in a military family, we had few English-language picture books on hand as we bounced from Europe to Asia. For the most part, they were set in suburbia or on a farm and only peopled with white children. But they imparted such an emotionally stable, wonderfully visual world that the differences between my world and the book’s were never distracting. I understood that anything was possible in a picture book…from talking cats to setting sail to bumping into dinosaurs. With a well-written, well-illustrated picture book, any child can slip into the skin of any character and go along for the ride.

Why are picture books important? Because story is how we learn. And while we are still forming, an appreciation for good art and design should be woven into our consciousness at the cellular level. But mainly, picture books are important because I believe every child deserves to be indulged. Every child should have access to a world where loving parents are the rule, good intentions prevail and challenging problems lead to satisfying resolutions if only you’ll just turn the page.


About Pat Cummings
Author and/or illustrator of over 35 books, Pat also compiled Talking With Artists, a series featuring children’s book illustrators.

Her Parsons and Pratt classes list a growing number of notable children’s books creators. She often lectures and conducts workshops, including an annual Children’s Book Boot Camp that connects writers and illustrators with publishers.

Pat serves on the boards of The Authors Guild and SCBWI, chairs the Society of Illustrators Founders Award committee, and is a member of The Writers Guild of America, East. Her latest book, Beauty and the Beast (HarperCollins), was translated and retold by her husband Chuku Lee.

Literacy Activity
November 7 – Elections

“Picture books build empathy which is an important tool for navigating through society.” (from Picture Book Month Teacher’s Guide: Why Picture Books Belong in Our Classrooms by Marcie Colleen, 2013).

Pool together the picture books you have read in class. Around five picture books will do. Talk to your students about what they liked, what worked for them as they were reading it, what they didn’t feel comfortable about in the picture books and why. After the discussion, make students select their top three picture books. Have them write their top three picture books on a piece of paper or a book review handout or template. Post their book reviews on the class bulletin board. Spend a day or two with your students in reading the book reviews. Make sure that the books reviewed are available in your classroom library or in the school library. Your students may be interested to read and find out for themselves how interesting the books are based on the reviews of their peers!

Suggested readings:
Grace for President by Kelly S. DiPucchio illustrated by LeUyen Pham
Vote for Me! by Ben Clanton
Amelia Bedelia’s First Vote by Herman Parish, illustrated by Lynne Avril
Duck for President by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Betsy Lewin
So You Want to Be President? by Judith St. George, illustrated by David Small

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 }

Angel Bright November 16, 2016 at 12:27 pm

awsome that is cool


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