Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Power of the Picture Book: Sara Grochowski

Sara Grochowski

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love books. In fact, books have always been the one true constant in my life.

Not all readers are raised on picture books. We all know that some readers do not develop a love of books until they find that perfect chapter book or young adult novel; there is no one path to a love of books and reading. For me, it was the picture book that forever changed my life… and continues to do so.

Before I was born, my mother enrolled in a subscription program for picture books. My research leads me to believe that this was a subscription program created by Parent’s Magazine Press - I find references to it here and there on Goodreads - but the name of this program is of little consequence. It’s the books that arrived by mail, that were read over and over, and now, years later, appear in pictures, stories, and memories, that matter.


There was Grandma Tildy in Jerry Smath’s But No Elephants, who came to regret her changing stance on elephants; Sam Bear in Frank Asch’s Popcorn, whose hijinks (and nausea upon seeing one more bag of popcorn) never failed to make me laugh; disaster-prone Henry the Duck from Henry’s Awful Mistake by Robert M. Quackenbush; and the couple who teach a valuable lesson about improvisation and poverty in Jack Kent’s Socks for Supper.


Whenever I pick up one of these old favorites, I’m transported back to my childhood and the transformative power of the picture book. Grandma Tildy, Sam Bear, Henry the Duck, the couple – they were more than characters on a page. Their frustration, regret, obsession, and creativity influenced how I viewed and interacted with the world… how I continue to view and interact with the world.


Today, as a bookseller, blogger, aunt, and reader, the powerful magic of the picture book is never far from my mind. I am grateful that I am in a position to connect young readers with books that will have a positive and lasting impact on their lives and to spread awareness about the power of picture books and reading to your child, even before birth.

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Sara Grochowski is the Children’s Specialist at Brilliant Books in Traverse City, MI. You can visit the Brilliant Books website and learn more about their subscription programs for kids here. Sara also reviews books for Publisher’s Weekly and blogs at The Hiding Spot. You can follow her on Twitter, where she tweets as @thehidingspot.