Why Picture Books Are Important by Kelly Starling Lyons

by Dianne on November 10, 2017

Why Picture Books Are Important by Kelly Starling Lyons

The first picture book I saw with a black child on the cover was Something Beautiful by Sharon Dennis Wyeth. I didn’t see it at library storytime or in a classroom at school. It came across my desk at work. I was a writer in my 20s.

I looked at the sweet-faced girl on the cover with ballies and barrettes and smiled as I thought about my nieces, my cousins and myself at that age. Then, I opened the book and was blown away by the power of the story. A child’s quest to discover what people in her neighborhood consider beautiful turns into a journey of self-empowerment. The girl transforms her surroundings and the beauty inside her heart radiates for all to see.

As soon as I finished reading Something Beautiful, I saw picture books in a new way. They were moving, evocative, full of heart. They could change someone’s life by showing them the power they hold inside. As a black woman reading a picture book about a black girl for the first time, I knew I had to add my voice. A picture book can take children who are often invisible in literature and center their stories so they’re heard and seen.

Something Beautiful is my example of a perfect picture book. It’s lyrical, begs to be read again and again, has layers of meaning, outstanding illustrations and lingers in your mind long after you’ve closed the book. Picture books are important because they speak to something deep inside. They move, affirm, inspire and heal. They give us back to ourselves.

About Kelly Starling Lyons

Kelly Starling Lyons is a children’s book author whose mission is to transform moments, memories and history into stories of discovery. Her books include chapter book, Eddie’s Ordeal; CCBC Choices-honored picture book, One Million Men and Me; Ellen’s Broom, a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book, Junior Library Guild and Bank Street Best selection; Tea Cakes for Tosh, a Notable Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies and Phillis Wheatley Book Award and Skipping Stones Honor Award recipient and Hope’s Gift, a winter/spring 2013 Okra Pick by SIBA (Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance). Her newest picture book One More Dino on the Floor released March 1, 2016 followed by the chapter books Jada Jones: Rock Star (Sept 2017) and Jada Jones: Class Act (Sept. 2017).

Literacy Activity
November 10 – Dinosaurs

“Picture books aid students in visualizing mathematics within a narrative concept.” (from Picture Book Month Teacher’s Guide: Why Picture Books Belong in Our Classrooms by Marcie Colleen, 2013)

Use picture books to introduce counting concepts. Count the number of dinosaurs on the cover of the picture book. As you read along, keep counting and write the number on the board. At the end of the read aloud, ask which number is the biggest and the least.

Suggested reading
Dinosaurs Roar, Butterflies Soar! by Bob Barner
Dinosaurs, Dinosaurs by Byron Barton
Oh, My Oh My Oh Dinosaurs! by Sandra Boynton
Dinosaurs! by Gail Gibbons
Dinosaurumpus! by Tony Mitton

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.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Kaye Baillie November 10, 2017 at 4:23 pm

Beautifully put, Kellie!


Kaye Baillie November 10, 2017 at 4:23 pm

oops, Kelly, sorry. 🙂


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