Why Picture Books Are Important by Ralph Masiello
Picture books have power. When children open a book, they open a world of possibilities. Where else do frogs fly through the sky on lily pads, board games open up to other worlds and chaos, giant red dogs are heroes, a child with a large purple crayon goes on a fantastic journey of creativity, and a dreamer meets some wonderfully “wild things”?
When I was a very small boy, my mother gave me an amazing gift: the love of books. My first memories of books were sweet and comforting. I had a very small table and two chairs in my bedroom. At lunchtime, my mother would close the blinds, cover the table with a red and white checkerboard table cloth, and light a candle. As I sat, slowly eating my peanut butter and jelly sandwich, she would read to me wonderful picture books that would take me on incredible journeys beyond my small town. My favorite book was A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson. I could see myself by the seashore digging with my little spade, swinging on a swing so high I could see other lands, and making my bed into a toy army battlefield with giants on hills and ships sliding along the sheets.
In the hands of children, they open the world to endless imagination and creativity. I started visiting schools in 1987 and have now been to over 2700. I have seen the power of the picture book in the hands of children. Their own books are filled with imagination, wonder, sadness, joy, adventure, and amazing creativity. I have seen the beaming pride as a child shows me their book. It gives them the power to elevate themselves to places beyond their houses, beyond their small towns and cities, beyond their own lives.
About Ralph Masiello
Ralph was born, raised, and still resides in the state of Massachusetts where he lives with his daughters Alexa and Talia. A graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design (BFA, Illustration, 1985), Ralph has illustrated for magazines, newspapers and books, created posters and prints, and shown his fine art paintings in galleries throughout the world. Beginning with The Icky Bug Alphabet Book in 1986, Ralph has become internationally known for the children’s books he’s written and illustrated. Since 1987, he has visited over 2,700 schools all over the world, inspiring children with his life story, humor, and art. While visiting schools, he is often inspired himself by the enthusiasm, creativity, and hard work of the students and teachers. This led him to create his unique “How to Draw” book series. The most recent, Ralph Masiello’s Fairy Drawing Book was released in September 2014 to rave reviews. In 2011, his work appeared in a strange and mysterious book called The Mystic Phyles: Beasts. Coming in the Spring 2017 is the Ralph Masiello’s Alien Drawing Book and Fall 2017 is the Ralph Masiello’s Train Drawing Book.
November 28 – Under the Sea
“Literature takes us to places we cannot go when inside a classroom; and additionally through the use of illustrations and photographs, picture books can show us places we are unable to go to ourselves.”(from Picture Book Month Teacher’s Guide: Why Picture Books Belong in Our Classrooms by Marcie Colleen, 2013).
Play pretend with your students. Imagine that you are all sea animals. What if I were a fish? A sting ray? A starfish? An octopus? Make students choose a sea animal they want to be. What would a fish’s day be like? What does a starfish see that another sea animal cannot? How does an octopus swim away from its prey? Talk about it then write have students write down their sea animal story.
A House for Hermit Crab by Eric Carle
Hooray for Fish! by Lucy Cousins
Fish Eyes: A Book You Can Count On by Lois Elhert
Ordinary Amos and the Amazing Fish by Eugenie and Henry Fernandes
Fish Is Fish by Leo Lionni
Way Down Deep in the Deep Blue Sea by Jan Peck
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!