Why Picture Books Are Important by Dianne White

by Dianne on November 5, 2017

Why Picture Books Are Important by Dianne White

When my kids were of picture book age, I knew little about the genre apart from a handful of classics introduced to me by my grandmother. Though we made many trips to the library, the books we brought home were often randomly chosen. We had favorites, but it wasn’t until I began teaching, a few years later, that I discovered the power and possibility of picture books.

I was completely smitten. I immersed myself in a world of books I hadn’t known existed, filling the gaps in my reading education. So fond was I of picture books – the rhythm and sounds of their words, the extraordinary illustrations, and the ways in which the two came together to become more than their separate parts – that I began to wonder if I might one day write such books.

I studied, took classes, and even returned to school to earn an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Eventually, I sold BLUE on BLUE which, appropriately enough, was inspired by a poetry/writing exercise I’d shared dozens of times with my students.

In a word, picture books are magic. They are windows and mirrors and doors that open up conversations. They invite dialogue, not only between a book’s creators and readers, but more importantly, between the parents, teachers, and loving adults who read and share them, and the children who sit snuggled on their laps, huddled together in a classroom circle, or stretched out – book on the floor – in a home or library.

Much like David McCord describes in his poem, “Books Fall Open,” I fell into picture books and have been delighted and charmed by them ever since.

About Dianne White
Dianne White is the award-winning author of BLUE ON BLUE (Beach Lane Books/ S&S), illustrated by Caldecott medalist, Beth Krommes. She holds an elementary bilingual teaching credential and a master’s in Language and Literacy. In 2007, she received her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts.

After 25 years in the classroom, Dianne now writes full-time from her home near Phoenix, Arizona. Two new picture books are forthcoming in 2018 – GOODBYE BRINGS HELLO, illustrated by Daniel Wiseman (HMH), and WHO EATS ORANGE?, illustrated by Robin Page (Beach Lane Books). Visit Dianne online at diannewrites.com.

Literacy Activity
November 5 – Storms and Typhoons

“Picture books give us a more intimate look at scientific concepts that are often abstract and difficult to understand”. (from Picture Book Month Teacher’s Guide: Why Picture Books Belong in Our Classrooms by Marcie Colleen, 2013)

Use a picture book as springboard to discuss scientific concepts. Talk about events in the picture book that are likely to happen in real life. Look at the responses and feelings of characters on the events in the story by identifying words that describe it. Point at visuals that emphasise the feeling or emotion. Find illustrations that indicate the scientific concept that is up for discussion. Ask students how this scientific concept can occur in daily life.

Suggested reading:

Weather by Seymour Simon
Weather Words and What They Mean by Gail Gibbons
The Cloud Book by Tomie de Paola
Thunder Cake by Patricia Polacco
The Wind Blew by Pat Hutchins

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.

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