Why Picture Books Are Important by Joe Kulka

by Dianne on November 24, 2015

Joe Kulka book cover

Why Picture Books Are Important by Joe Kulka
Kids will devour books. Literally. I’ve seen books that I have written and or illustrated been chewed, chomped upon, and drooled on. To me that is the highest compliment.

That means the kid likes the book. Or then again maybe he or she really hates it and is actively destroying it.

Either way, I made an impact.

As artists and authors that is all we can ever hope of our work – that we will make an impression on our audience.

Due to the age in which we live, imagery and information bombards us nonstop in every possible way. Cell phones, computers, television, video games, movies, billboards, magazines, newspapers – everywhere you look some message is being delivered on some medium.

For a child who has only been alive a short period of time, all of this is new. All of this is being directed either intentionally or accidentally at their young impressionable eyes as well as at the eyes of more jaded adults.

This is why picture books are important.

Picture books are some of the first images and words that a child will hear and see in context of a story. The fact that someone is taking the time to share these books with children makes the books take on a sense of greater importance to the child. Mommy is reading me this book. This must be important. Even if the child is not consciously thinking this, it is registering.

Picture books are designed specifically for young children. They are written to delight, educate and entertain. Radical ideas may for the first time in their lives enter a child’s mind due to a picture book. You mean I can be the one in charge like Max is in charge of the Wild Things? But I am little and small. Hmm…Max is little and small too. But he was brave and tamed the Wild Things by staring into their yellow eyes. Maybe I can be brave, too!

Picture books can be empowering this way.

They may also be the first time a child understands a joke or some sort of humor other than someone tickling her or making a funny face at him.

All of this leads the child to want to experience more books and ultimately read books by themselves.

Or eat them.

Either way, they will devour picture books and I hope they will continue to do so for a very long time.

Joe Kulka headshot

About Joe Kulka
Joe Kulka has illustrated over 20 books for children. 5 of those books he has also written. Joe’s latest picture book is The Christmas Coal Man (CarolRhoda Books, 2015). He has been honored to have had several of his books win or be nominated for over 15 children’s book award and honors. Joe’s book, Wolf’s Coming! was named by School Library Journal as one of the best books of the year. Joe teaches classes on illustration and children’s books at Pennsylvania College of Art and Design, Moore College of Art and Design, Rosemont College and DeSales University.

Literacy Activity
Nov 24 ~ Monsters/Beasts

“Picture books help students make sense of the world.” (from the Picture Book Month Teacher’s Guide: Why Picture Book Belong in Our Classrooms by Marcie Colleen, 2013).

Monsters can be big. Or monsters can be small. Some monsters are fluffy. Others are scaly. There are many kinds of monsters. Read aloud the text of a picture book about monsters but do not share the illustrations. Then, have students create their own illustrations for the monsters in the book.

Suggested reading:
My Crocodile Does Not Bite by Joe Kulka
The Monstore by Tara Lazar, illustrated by James Burks
Even Monsters by AJ Smith
The Monster’s Monster by Patrick McDonnell
Substitute Creature by Chris Gall

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 }

:Donna November 29, 2015 at 12:08 pm

Picture books are one of the most empowering things there can be, Joe. Totally agree! 🙂


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