Why Picture Books Are Important by Elizabeth O. Dulemba

by Dianne on November 3, 2017


Why Picture Books Are Important by Elizabeth O. Dulemba

Literacy is about more than just words. Let’s talk about three types of literacy that picture books are especially good at imparting.

Visual literacy. Our society is run on images and symbolism. They are signifiers adults take for granted, but they must be learned nonetheless. They teach children how to navigate our world. Picture books can offer an introduction to this primary form of communication.

Emotional literacy. Babies quickly learn that a smile means a parent is happy with them, while a frown signifies the opposite. But what about the more nuanced emotions of compassion and empathy? In picture books, children can put themselves into the shoes (or paws) of others. They can learn that the world is made up of points of view other than their own.

Cultural literacy. This can be translated into not only various cultures, but various races, sexual orientations, and familial demographics. Picture books offer a non-threatening introduction to our multi-cultural, diverse community, allowing a child to understand our world from the outset as a varied and rich multitude of experiences.

Sharing a variety of picture books with children can provide the tools to understanding and translating our world, helping to create a more compassionate, educated and literate citizenry, which not only benefits children, but benefits all of society.

About Elizabeth Dulemba
Elizabeth, aka ‘e’ is an author, illustrator, teacher and speaker with over two dozen titles to her credit, from board books to a novel. She speaks professionally at universities, schools, and events—including her TEDx Talk, “Is Your Stuff Stopping You?” (viewed 200,000 times). In the summers, she is Visiting Associate Professor in the MFA in Children’s Book Writing and Illustrating program at Hollins University. Before moving to Scotland to pursue an MFA in Illustration (with Distinction) at the University of Edinburgh, she was a Board Member for the Georgia Center for the Book and served as Illustrator Coordinator for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators southeast chapter. In these capacities, she established annual Illustrators’? Days, curated gallery shows, created a state-wide literary prize and a scholarship program, helping hundreds of promising creators on their own paths. Her e-newsletter goes out to nearly 4,000 subscribers each week. Currently, she is illustrating a book by award-winning author Jane Yolen and her son, Adam Stemple, CROW NOT CROW for Cornell Lab Publishing Group (Fall 2018), while pursuing a PhD in Children’s Literature at the University of Glasgow. Visit http://dulemba.com to learn more.

Literacy Activity
November 3 – Friends

“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)

Look at similarities and differences. Create a Venn diagram of the student and the main character. Add another circle to include a friend in comparing and contrasting qualities of real people and fictional ones. Use the ideas and concepts generated from the Venn Diagramms in a writing activity.

Suggested reading:

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs by Judi and Ron Barrett
Everybody Cooks Rice by Norah Dooley
Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey
The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog! by Mo Willems
How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food? by Jan Yolen

Be sure to download the Picture Book Month Teacher’s Guide: Why Picture Books Belong in Our Classroomsfor more engaging ideas and activities to bring picture books into the ELA, Math, Science, and Social Studies curriculum.

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