Why Picture Books Are Important by Betsy Bird

by Dianne on November 6, 2017

Why Picture Books Are Important by Betsy Bird

There is a clinic in my city of Evanston called Erie Family Health Center. Altogether, it’s just a top notch place. In addition to their services to people from all walks of life, I’ve accidentally stumbled on Spanish language cooking classes and other efforts to reach out to the community. Best of all, Erie participates with Reach Out and Read to give every single child that walks in the door a book for every visit. Now I’m a mom myself, and I have encountered first hand fellow parents that have been shocked by the prospect of reading to their babies or very small children. Consider the impact a doctor has when they get picture books into the hands of parents and kids right from the start. Doctor’s orders, kids. Read!

Picture books are the lifeblood of literacy. They provide the roots for lifelong learning, but only if you can get the parents on board from the start. There are a lot of things going wrong with the world today, but when I see advocacy groups like First Book, Milk and Bookies, Reading Is Fundamental, and more, I get this sense that there’s hope. We’re increasing awareness of the necessity of getting picture books into the hands of kids from the start. There. That’s your happy thought for the day.

About Betsy Bird

Betsy Bird is the Collection Development Manager of Evanston Public Library and the former Youth Materials Specialist of New York Public Library. Her blog, A Fuse #8 Production, is hosted by School Library Journal. Betsy reviews regularly for Kirkus and podcasts regularly with her sister about picture books at Fuse 8 n’ Kate. Betsy is the author of the picture book Giant Dance Party, co-author of the very adult Wild Things: Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature (written with Peter Sieruta and Julie Danielson), and editor of the recent anthology of funny female writers and illustrators for kids, Funny Girl: Funniest. Stories. Ever. You can follow Betsy on Twitter @FuseEight.

Literacy Activity
November 6 – Humor

“Picture books contain many literary conventions, including but not limited, to rhyme, onomatopoeia, alliteration, hyperbole.” (from Picture Book Month Teacher’s Guide: Why Picture Books Belong in Our Classrooms by Marcie Colleen, 2013)

A picture book can also be a collection of prose and poetry. Introduce children to different genres of literature through such picture books. Riddles, quotes, jokes, short stories and collected art works can all be found in compilations and curated in books for children with beautiful illustrations. Build a classroom library of picture books that cover a wide range of literary forms and genre. Conduct a Drop Everything And Read (DEAR) Time. Set up a writing corner where students can write short responses to what they have read. Gather these writing responses and post them up on the bulletin board for everyone to read during free time.

Suggested readings

Be Quiet! by Ryan T. Higgins
The Monster at the End of this Book by Jon Stone
Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems
The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear by Don Wood
Mixed Up Fairy Tales by Hilary Robinson

Be sure to download the Picture Book Month Teacher’s Guide: Why Picture Books Belong in Our Classrooms 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 }

Muriel Feldshuh November 6, 2017 at 5:44 am

What a well deserved honor! I always enjoyed attending your NYPL Literary Salon events and also log onto your #fuse 8 blog. Wishing you continued success with your work.


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