Sandra Markle

Sandra Markle

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Why Picture Books Are Important

Picture books are the perfect way for people to share time together. No other book is quite like it for reading aloud and for feeling like you’re in the story or real-life adventure. 
I remember sitting on my mother’s lap for a hug and a story as I turned the pages of a picture book and she read over my shoulder. You could say picture books are generational because I did that with my children too. I’ll never forget having the flu and my son Scott, bringing The Berenstain’s Bears in the Night to share and make me feel better. He was too young to really read but we’d poured over that book so many times he did a very good job reciting it to me, pointing out each picture. 
After my daughter Holly was born, we explored favorite picture books all over again. And now I’m getting to discover favorite picture books yet again reading with my grandchildren. It speaks volumes that lines from some picture books have become family sayings. For example, “For rabbits you see aren’t affected by fame, No matter what happens they’re always the same.” (Bill Peet’s Huge Harold).  (Bill Martin Jr.’s Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See?) And “You don’t need words or warm or anything but hope.” (Jane Yolen’s Owl Moon).

As an author, there’s something truly special about writing picture books. For me, it’s telling stories to children just the way I did with my own family only from my mind to the pages they read. And, as I write, I read the text over and over out loud to hear and shape the text until it’s just right—a word picture. I want adults who’ll share my book with children to be able to bring the picture book to life as they read aloud. I always tell children when I visit schools and libraries, “When you read my books, I’ll be there with you. We’ll share the story together.” Picture books are that unique kind of communication that makes this promise true.

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