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Why are Picture Books Important?

November is National Picture Book Month. However, for me, everyday is picture book day. I kid not, I sometimes feel I read a picture book(or more) a day.

Picture Books: the image they conjure is a little one seated near a loved one, and being read to or attempting to read this beautiful book where each page is a perfect mix of words and images (or sometimes just the images). But picture books are not just for the little ones. They work for all ages. And I can vouch for that, considering I read them, totally for me, myself!

A picture book a day keeps boredom away! Click here to tweet.

Growing up in India, I do not recall reading too many books that fit the ’32-page, pictures-with/without-text-on-each-page’ definition of most picture books I see now. But I do recall feasting on comics (Amar Chitra Kathas, Indrajal Comics and more) as well as a whole lot of totally wonderful children’s magazines(like Champak, Chandamama, Target, Misha, etc) which were and continue to be a wonderful pathway to more reading for kids of all ages even today in India (well not all of them are still published today; but I am sure you will find them in home libraries or used bookstores all across the country)

Why Are Picture Books Important?

Here are a few reasons why I believe that picture books work so well, and are so important. (And my definition of picture books is more comprehensive than that 32-page one)

  • Picture books are a fun and wonderful first step to reading. Sherman Alexie relates in his essay Superman and Me about how he learned to read through comics – he filled in the words in the bubbles (that he could not read) with those his imagination supplied based on the pictures next to those word bubbles. While picture books, comics, and graphic novels occupy different spaces in the book industry, I do believe they work towards a similar goal, which is to promote reading while making it fun and colorful and picturesque!
  • They are a great way to encourage conversations between adult and child, reader and listener, or even readers reading together. Readers can share their reactions to different aspects of the story, what they have understood or learned, and how they relate it to their lives.
  • The illustrations help enhance the reading experience by making it more immersive for the reader, by looking for clues in the images and using the illustrations to add to the story.
  • This also helps develop visual intelligence, and in today’s world of visual images all around us, this is an important skill for anyone and everyone to have. As the reader turns each page of a picture book, he or she builds and draws connections between the images themselves as well as between the images and the words.
  • Words, words, words: While most people tend to view picture books as something akin to bland baby food when it comes to the words used in them, I think(and know) they are actually a banquet. In fact, I have learned many new and beautiful words from picture books. (Note to myself: make a note of such words going forward for a future post!). Another thing about the words in picture books – read them aloud!
  • Picture books are visual delights as well; so many of them are literally (pun intended) works of art, thus making picture books a wonderful way to introduce kids (and older people too) to art and its many forms.
  • You can always spare the time to read them. With picture books around, no one can say they do not have time to read! You just need a few minutes and you have finished a book.
  • Picture books provide a multi-sensory experience in a fun format. This makes them an ideal tool for learning new concepts, from the very simple to the more complex ones.
  • Learning-in-a-nutshell. That’s another thing picture books provide. Every story, idea, or message needs to be conveyed by condensing it to the bare minimum while keeping it simple, yet interesting. And that makes picture books powerful, don’t you agree?
  • They are mold-able to fit the idea or the story or whatever else it is they hold. The possibilities are endless.
  • Everyone can enjoy a picture book. Whether you are young or old, a great reader or one who is learning to read, a lover of books or not-so-much, whether alone or with others, picture books provide whole new worlds of delight within their pages.

To Sum It Up

Picture books are imagination-nurturers, wonderful teachers, art-museums, story-providers, conversation-openers, people-binders, making-of-readers-and-writers-and-listeners all rolled up in one package!

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr.Seuss

You can look forward to a list of picture books I have enjoyed soon.

Dear reader

Do you think picture books are important? Why or why not? If you enjoy(ed) picture books, what are some of your favorites? Do let me know in the comments.

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