Why Picture Books Are Important by Muriel Feldshuh

by Dianne on November 8, 2017

Why Picture Books Are Important by Muriel Feldshuh

Picture books have always been very important to me. It was the close bond that I felt with my mother when she read to me from a big book of fairy tales that I remember most. I don’t recall the name of the book but those fairy tales certainly sparked my imagination and held my interest. I would go back to them over and over and make up my own stories as I look at the beautiful pictures.

Children find comfort in the books they like to have read and reread to them. They love the words and the sounds they make and they love the art that becomes a part of their lives. I confess that since childhood, I have always had a soft spot for the mixture of words and art. An artist’s brush is like a magic wand that brings to life the true measure of a good story. They are an introduction to the world for a child and help develop a means of communication and self expression. There is no feeling that can’t be explored in children’s books. Sometimes parents rush their children to read chapter books too early. Picture books can and should be read at all ages. We learn from them.

It seems as if I have been reading and sharing picture books with children, teachers and parents all my life. As a classroom teacher, library teacher and a member of Childhood Literacy and Author Board to the Books for Kids Foundation, I have always enjoyed reading to children and seeing the joy they get as they make new storybook friends and enjoy the pictures in the books. I love collecting picture books and began doing that in the early 1970’s. I feel so much comfort when I look over my collection.

What started out as a small project for me has grown into another way to share my passion for picture books with others. My Traveling Exhibit CELEBRATING CHILDREN’S BOOKS! has visited sixteen Children’s Museums and Libraries across the United States. The exhibit consists of eight large quilts containing the squares of 218 talented and generous children’s books illustrators and some quotes from authors. Thousands of children and adults are enjoying the exhibit and it has received high praise.

Picture books are truly creative, inspiring, magical amusing, educational, fun to share and sometimes wordless. They are special!

About Muriel Feldshuh

Mariel Feldshuh is a native NY Brooklynite. She is on the Childhood Literacy and Author Board to Books for Kids Foundation. Muriel is currently a member of SCBWI, The Author’s Guild, The Carle, NCCIL, NYLA, NSN, GSSL, Brooklyn Reading Council, The Arne Nixon Center and a lifetime member of ALA. As a dedicated Elementary School Classroom and Library Teacher, she won many awards including Media Specialist of the Year presented by NYSRA, First Fire Safety Teacher of the Year, Outstanding American Educator and listed in Who’s Who of American Educators several times. Upon her retirement, she was given an Exemplary Service Award by the UFT and a Citation for Excellence from the Brooklyn Borough President.

As a storytelling coach she was awarded the National Pegasus Coach Extraordinaire Aeward from Voices of America. Muriel received two Impact Grants for her Producing Big Books Program and her Banners Plus Program. She helped 300 students write and illustrate their own picture books which became an important part of the library program. Several children won the Ezra Jack Keats Brooklyn and Citywide awards. Muriel was selected as NYer of the Week by NY1 and Ivanhoe News Inteviewed her for their smart Woman Segment. Her publications include Flip-Up Bulletin Boards published by Scholastic, Inc. 1996; UP FRONT with STORYTELLING, a quarterly newsletter which she edited for thirteen years. Many of her articles appeared in StoryArt Magazine and Here and There Newsletter. She currently has a Traveling Exhibit…CELEBRATING CHILDREN’s BOOKS! and has shared her Poetry Banner Project with some Brooklyn Public Libraries. She is delighted to hear from former students and is able to share picture books with their children.

Literacy Activity
November 8 – Libraries

“Picture books not only tell a story of a culture or historical time, they also provide a visual into the world through illustrations.” (from Picture Book Month Teacher’s Guide: Why Picture Books Belong in Our Classrooms by Marcie Colleen, 2013)

Support your library! Ask who among your students have a library card. During Parent-Teacher conference, encourage their parents to get them one if they do not have one yet. Compile a recommended book list for parents so that they can continue read aloud sessions at home on a regular basis. Conduct a book donation drive that will benefit a community or public library. Schedule a regular library session with your school librarian and discuss the many ways you and he or she can work together in teaching literacy skills.

Suggested reading
Amelia Bedelia, Bookworm by Herman Parish
Bats at the Library by Brian Lies
D.W.’s Library Card by Marc Brown
Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen
Library Mouse by Daniel Kirk

Be sure to download thePicture 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.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Stephanie November 8, 2017 at 11:08 am

Thank you for this lovely essay on why picture books are important and for all you do to invite kids — and grown-ups — into the picture book world.


Robert Quackenbush November 8, 2017 at 11:11 am

Muriel Feldshuh is a national treasure in the world of children’s literature.


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