Why Picture Books Are Important by Lori Richmond

by Dianne on November 15, 2017

Why Picture Books Are Important by Lori Richmond

Picture books are a young child’s first introduction to a wide range of styles in art and stories. Through picture books, children learn that there is no right or wrong way, but, rather, many different ways visuals and words can be interpreted to make stories. An elephant may be rendered with incredible realism in one book, and stylized in bold color and line art in another. An inanimate fruit or vegetable in one book may suddenly have arms, legs, and feelings in another. Words can rhyme, or not rhyme, and some stories don’t even need words at all. Children learn to let go of how things are “supposed” to be, and open their minds to an infinite range of possibilities.

I am fortunate to be raising my own children in New York City, where we have access to art museums and cultural institutions just a subway ride away. For children who live in areas without such access, picture books bring art museums to them. Pages in a picture book are like art displayed on a gallery wall—but this gallery, the child’s own gallery, is in their bedroom, on their laps, in their hands… ready to be delighted in and explored.

Perhaps the most rewarding thing about being an author-illustrator is seeing a child inspired to create their own work because of something they saw, heard, or felt in a book. This month, I hope that creativity is ignited in children everywhere as they wander and explore their favorite stories!

About Lori Richmond
Lori Richmond is a corporate creative director turned picture book maker. She is the author-illustrator of Pax and Blue, which was called a “sprightly debut” by The New York Times and selected for exhibition in the Society of Illustrators ‘Original Art’ show. She is also the author-illustrator of Bunny’s Staycation (coming soon), and the illustrator of several other picture books. Before her career in children’s publishing, Lori was a sought-after expert on all things baby and parenting as a contributing editor to leading pregnancy and parenting brand, The Bump. She has appeared on Today, Good Morning America, CNN, and more. Lori lives with her husband and two sons in Brooklyn, NY.

Literacy Activity
November 15 – Birds

“Picture books offer a narrative and humanization to several scientific concepts.”(from Picture Book Month Teacher’s Guide: Why Picture Books Belong in Our Classrooms by Marcie Colleen, 2013)

After reading a picture book about birds, go to the community park or the city garden. Do a nature walk with your students or your own kids. Talk about the things they see, hear, smell and feel. Observe and describe the sky, the weather and people’s activities in the park. When you and the class or your kids are back at school or at home, write down the experiences you all have had. Use complete sentences in writing the experience of a day at the park or garden.

Suggested reading
Little Green by Keith Baker
About Birds: A Guide for Children by Cathryn Sill and John Sill
Two Blue Jays by Anne Rockwell and Megan Halsey
Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
Riki’s Birdhouse by Monica Wellington

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 15, 2017 at 6:21 pm

That’s an interesting perspective, but I think it’s likely that children are born without a sense of how things are “supposed” to be. Magicians often say that young children are hard to do tricks for because they’re not surprised by unusual things happening, and also aren’t fooled as easily by misdirection.

I did like your analogy to art museums, though. It’s definitely a great way for kids to be able to touch the things they look at, when interacting with most things in art museums is off limits.


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