Why Picture Books Are Important

Reprinting my post from National Picture Book Month for those of you who missed it.

Have you ever seen kids with picture books they love? They carry them around like security blankets. They chew on them. They sleep with them. They wake with them. And in turn, those beloved books awaken in children a love of reading.

The first book my oldest son Patrick loved was Big Wheels by Anne Rockwell. We always had to have a copy checked out at one of the many branches of our library, so that there would always be one in the house. Finally, Santa got smart and brought Pat Big Wheels. Pat chose it over all the other gifts under the tree to take to bed on Christmas night. A reader was born.

Reading aloud conjures the magic of picture books. And a large part of that magic is what happens off the page… the cuddling, chatting, discovery, and discussion. And if you think the child is the only one who benefits, think again.

I remember — when I was very, very young — cracking up on the couch as my Italian grandmother read me The Cat in the Hat Beginner Book Dictionary. I know what you’re thinking – a dictionary? Really? But, believe me, no one writes a dictionary like Dr. Seuss. And no one read it like Nonna. Nonna barely spoke English, yet she narrated page after page in the funniest voices. I then filled in my own words … and voices. We were on our reading journey together.

When kids learn to love reading, they can explore worlds, both real and imaginary, beyond their experience. But for the very young, those first picture books help them understand themselves and their own world, whether it’s their universe, their town, their timeout corner, their closet of clothes or even their cozy bed.

I encourage you to read through all the month’s posts from celebrated authors and illustrators and then join us again next year.

Happy Reading!

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