Why Picture Books Are Important by Eric Ode

by Dianne on November 7, 2017

Why Picture Books Are Important by Eric Ode

If I had to choose a single reason why I believe picture books are important (But, good golly, who could possibly limit themselves to a single reason?), it would have to be this; picture books are meant to be shared.

Maybe it’s because of the illustrations. Picture book illustration styles run the gamut, representing as much diversity as the art found in any national gallery or museum. But whether elaborately detailed and richly colored or spare with a bare-bones pallet, a picture book’s illustrations want to be explored and enjoyed up-close and with others. They are waiting to be pored over, puzzled over, and pointed at, page turn by page turn. Or maybe it’s all about the language. Picture book vocabulary, unlike the limited vocabulary found in easy reader books, can be bright, playful, and deeply poetic. It can be packed with unfamiliar words and ideas that encourage questions and discussion between the audience and the reader.

And so, whenever I stumble upon another carefully crafted picture book– a perfect storytelling marriage of text and images – I imagine it in the hands of a primary grade teacher, his students sitting crisscross and crowding his feet. Or I imagine a parent and child snuggled on the couch, turning the pages together. Or I see a youth services librarian in the story time carpet sharing to a roomful of caregivers and their young children. And when children get to experience this – a caring adult taking the time to share the pages of a book – they learn to associate books with love. And then they grow to be book-loving readers and lifelong learners. And then they change the world! (But that’s another story.)

About Eric Ode
Eric Ode bounces back and forth between work (if you can call it “work”) as a children’s songwriter and as a children’s author and poet. A former elementary teacher, Ode is the author of eleven books for kids including three poetry collections. He has been recognized with six Parents’ Choice Awards and contributed lyrics and poems to a Grammy nominated and a Grammy award-winning CD. Ode provides high-participation assemblies and workshops for elementary schools throughout the country. He and his wife, Kim, live in Bonney Lake, WA.

Literacy Activity
November 7 – Farmers

“Picture books allow students to have vicarious experiences through characters who are not like them.” (from Picture Book Month Teacher’s Guide: Why Picture Books Belong in Our Classrooms by Marcie Colleen, 2013)

Schedule a field trip to a nearby farm or market where fresh produce is being sold. With interview questions prepared beforehand, you and your students can find out how farmers and sellers grow and sell their harvests and produce. You can even divide the class in groups and each has a set of questions to ask farmers and sellers about agriculture and the food business. Buy food from the market and have a class lunch together. Back in class, talk about the answers gathered from the interview and collect students’ insights from the field trip on the market. Draw conclusions from their experiences. Read aloud a book on farmers, farming and fresh foods.

Suggested reading
Farm Alphabet Book by Jane Miller
Barnyard Banter by Denise Flemming
Apple Farmer Annie by Monica Wellington
Mrs. Wishy-Washy’s Farm by Joy Cowley
This Is the Farmer by Nancy Tafuri

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 }

Cassandra Gelvin November 7, 2017 at 11:44 am

Lots of picture books are meant to be shared because they’re aimed at children who aren’t reading on their own yet. So they have to be shared by someone who can read it to them.


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