Why Picture Books Are Important by Linda Joy Singleton

by Dianne on November 5, 2014

Linda Joy Singleton cover

Why Picture Books Are Important by Linda Joy Singleton
The first picture book I remember loving was The Poky Little Puppy. It was an early copy with gorgeous art and a thick colorful cover. Years later, as an adult, I spotted this book on my grandmother’s shelf and couldn’t resist reading it. There’s a special feeling children reserve for the books they fall in love with, and holding this book made me feel like a child again.

It wasn’t until I had children of my own that I pursued my writing career. I quickly realized I loved kids books the best. While I happily published midgrade and teen books, I also admired the picture books by my writing friends. I thought, “It would be so cool to have an artist draw pictures for my words.” And I dreamed of having a picture book of my own.

Still it took a while to write a picture book that was good enough to publish. Writing picture books is hard! Every word has to sing with meaning, plot, and character. All this is a super short format–usually less than 500 words. What a challenge!

But I thrive on challenges, and I never give up on my dreams. My first published picture book was about dogs—one for each season. I was lucky my publisher found an amazing illustrator who shared my love of books and dogs. And now I get to read my own picture book to kids. It’s SO fun! They laugh, smile and ask great questions. Kids really connect with the art in picture books and the art of telling a story just for them.

A picture book can transform a lap into a magical carpet that takes both reader and listener on an amazing journey. Words and pictures are like food for the soul, nourishing young minds and hearts. In my case, loving a picture book about a poky puppy was the beginning of a future of writing for kids—which is a wonderful honor.

Linda Joy Singleton

Linda Joy Singleton

About Linda Joy Singleton:
Linda Joy Singleton (author of The Seer & Dead Girl YA series) switches genres for her debut picture book: Snow Dog, Sand Dog from Albert Whitman. Inspired by a photo of a child building a snow dog, she’s created a doglicious picture book about seasons, allergies and DOGS. In Snow Dog, Sand Dog, a young girl is allergic to dogs but creatively finds a way to have four dogs: Snow Dog, Flower Dog, Sand Dog and Leaf Dog. Since age 8, Linda dreamed of being a published writer. She wrote her first novel at age 11 and a few years later submitted to American Girl magazine, earning helpful rejections. Her published series include YALSA honored The Seer, Dead Girl, and Regeneration. After dozens of books for older kids, Snow Dog, Sand Dog is her first picture book. And her second comes out in 2015: CA$H KAT (Arbordale), about counting money and cleaning up the environment. Linda and her husband, David, have two grown kids, and live in the country with horses, peacocks, cats and dogs. For photos, writing tips, free stories and Common Core guidelines, go to her website at: LindaJoySingleton.com.

Picture Book Month Daily Theme: Seasons

Curriculum Connections

Like Ally in Snow Dog, Sand Dog children can create their own imaginative pets. Students should carefully write out a description of their pet. For example: pebble eyes, a pine cone collar, and a crooked icicle tail. They should try to be as specific as possible.

When they are finished with their descriptions, each child should switch papers with another child and illustrate the other’s text. Illustrators should be careful to stay true to the written description, while also adding any fun details they want.

Once the illustration is finished, children should return the collaborative piece to the original writer. How closely did the illustrator capture the writer’s vision?

Correlates to the Common Core Writing standards: W.1.2, 2.2; Language Standards L.1.1, 2, 3; L.2.1,2,3

LIBRARIANS and TEACHERS OF YOUNGER GRADES: As a group, create an imaginary pet by listing all its attributes. Once the list is extensive, have each child create their own illustration of the pet, staying true to each of the details on the collective list. Compare and contrast the finished pieces. How similar are they? How different?

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Norah Colvin November 5, 2014 at 4:53 am

What a gorgeous inspiring story. Congratulations on your success. I look forward to sharing a story of my own with children one day also. I understand the pleasure that must give you – and them! 🙂


Doris Stone November 5, 2014 at 7:52 am

Thank you, Linda for a wonderful post.


Carol Kondrat November 5, 2014 at 8:50 am

Picture books are great for all ages. I am now retired, but as a language arts teacher, picture books were extra useful. I used them to teach reading and writing skills in grades 3, 4, & 5. The students could pick up the skill faster when the reading was not a challenge and the illustrations were invaluable. Pokey Little Puppy was one of my firsts and always a favorite with my children and grandchildren.


Stacey November 5, 2014 at 9:08 am

I love that quote about the way books transform the lap into a magical place. That sure is the truth!


Joanne Roberts November 5, 2014 at 3:01 pm

What lovely imagery! I look forward to Snow Dog becoming a huggable book my kids connect with as you did The Poky Little Puppy.


Lauri Fortino November 5, 2014 at 6:54 pm

Nice post Linda! There truly is something special about picture books. And sometimes it’s hard to describe that feeling we get when we revisit a beloved picture book from childhood. I’m glad your feelings lead you to writing and publishing your own. Snow Dog, Sand Dog is a great book!


Carol November 5, 2014 at 9:07 pm

Lovely post! I too love The Poky Little Puppy!


Linda Joy Singleton November 6, 2014 at 7:13 pm

Thank you all for your lovely comments!

I am so honored to be part of Picture Book Month. Thanks to all who have supported this event to make it a wonderful sharing of book love.

Linda Joy Singleton


:Donna November 12, 2014 at 10:33 pm

What a great simile, Linda 🙂
“A picture book can transform a lap into a magical carpet that takes both reader and listener on an amazing journey. “


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