The rhythm and tones, the delight and humor, the imagery and beauty that can be found in picture books are just a few reasons why I view them as integral to the nourishment of our reading lives. They have an ageless audience, bringing generations together through the interlacing of images and words. In approximately thirty-two pages, picture books can evoke emotions, grow ideas, reshape perspectives and expand understanding.
Picture books invite us to take a journeys to places both real and imagined. They launch us into environments and experiences that are different from our own. As we Journey through picture books we see impossible become possible. We see that in our Quest to understand ourselves and the world around us, we come to realize that our real lives are filled with stories. We uncover new worlds, and ideas, and possibilities each time we Return to our favorite picture books.
Picture books offer readers the opportunity to step away from the hectic pace of life, and find A Quiet Place to settle our minds. They invite us to take time to slow ourselves down so that we can notice...wonder...dream. Picture books offer us respite from the stresses and pressures of our everyday lives. As we let the words and pictures settle into our hearts and minds, we can be strengthened, renewed, and reminded that in the quiet we can just be.
Picture books can be the catalyst to helping readers see things from another perspective. They have the power to change hearts, to open closed minds. Picture books can spark conversations that can remove the lines and boundaries that try to divide us from The Other Side of an issue, or location, or person. They challenge our beliefs, helping to expand our understanding and acceptance of people that are different from us.
Picture books can help readers honor those who have been important in our lives. In picture books we see that we are not alone...that we can bond through our shared experiences. Picture books help us remember. They help us heal. They remind us that legacy lives inside of each us. Picture books can give us the opportunity to say “Thank you!” to the people and experiences that have shaped who we are today and who we can be in the future.
Mem Fox says the “fire of literacy is created by the emotional sparks between a child, a book, and the person reading it. It isn’t achieved by the book alone, nor by the child alone, nor by the adult who’s reading aloud—it’s the relationship winding between all three, bringing them together in easy harmony.” This is the power of picture books. The sparks are ignited regardless of age. And those sparks can be change agents when we fan the embers by making them integral to the nourishment of our reading lives.
Susan Dee lives on the beautiful coast of Southern Maine. She has taught pre-k through 5th grade and is currently K-5 Literacy Strategist in RSU 5: Durham, Freeport, Pownal. An avid reader and recommender, Susan is devoted to inspiring life-long literacy habits in learners of all ages. She is Chairperson of nErDcampNNE and co-host of Maine’s monthly literacy focused #MELit Twitter Chat. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram (@literacydocent).