THE IMPORTANCE OF PICTURE BOOKS, NO MATTER YOUR AGE
by Janice Milusich
Like a magnifier you hold in your hand when you want to view something up close, picture books provide a focus onto a specific moment, a particular happening, or emotion, or imagining. In picture books, things that often go unnoticed are given their due. And together, the reader and the listener travel a path made of words and pictures. The words in picture books are chosen carefully and placed precisely so as to pull at heartstrings, make minds curious, create a sense of tension, or of triumph, let minds wonder or imaginations soar. The illustrations of picture books enrich the audience’s understanding and sensibility. Their poignant immediacy, lets the reader and audience fully appreciate the marvel of the world or worlds they will visit via the book they’ve chosen.
Why are picture books important for young readers/listeners?
Picture books are important for the young, for a myriad of reasons. As a child’s first guide into the worlds of art and literature they’re what encourages children to develop and grow. Picture books are an important first step in learning to read, and explore new ideas. They portray language, they evoke emotions, and the imagery found within them provides a conduit to the world of imagination.
Picture books frame childhood. They contain characters and situations that are recognizable to children. Through hearing or reading picture books, children can figure out a way to cope, to comprehend, to behave and to relate to the world around them.
Why are picture books important for older readers?
For siblings, parents and grandparents, picture books are moments of shared experience. The words and images within a picture book allow age boundaries to be crossed with comfortable ease. In the sharing of a picture book, the reader and the audience often take something different away from what would seem the same experience. But it is in the sharing, that both reader and audience have something in common.
Through picture books, older readers can discuss difficult concepts, topics, and emotions with their younger counterparts and, vice versa, younger readers/listeners can express their understanding of those concepts, topics or emotions. It’s the togetherness of the journey that matters and is most important.
No matter how many birthdays the reader or listener has had, picture books offer a window with shutters thrown open for us to view close up, and to share, the many wonders of our world.
Janice Milusich is the author of the early chapter book Cleo’s Big Ideas: One Thing Leads to Another and the picture book Off Go Their Engines, Off Go Their Lights. She’s presently enrolled in Stony Brook University’s Children’s Literature Fellowship, with a focus on writing picture books and early chapter books. She’s a member of SCBWI, Author’s Guild, and LICWI.