Let's Celebrate with Picture Books!
Have you noticed via the badge in my right sidebar that this month is cause for celebration for picture book lovers everywhere? Yes, folks, November is Picture Book Month, a theme very close to The Book Chook's heart.
What's so special about picture books? I'm glad you asked. I believe there are several reasons picture books are special.
For a start, picture books are often the first books a young child engages with. As such they're responsible for setting his feet on the pathway to reading. How wonderful to think that your son, the Supreme Court Judge, loves to read because you took the time to read to him from picture books. Or that your Kindergarten class has grown up to be successful, happy, literate adults, many of whom still remember those picture books you used to share with them.
How many of us can remember a special picture book from our past? Seriously, I imagine most of us can. I see you now, dewy-eyed and smiling as you remember Mulga Bill's Bicycle or The Saggy Baggy Elephant, or Are You My Mother or Where the Wild Things Are. Picture books make an impact on our lives and leave us with lasting memories that just naturally conjure smiles.
Picture books are also a wonderful way for children to absorb the features of language without being explicitly taught. They pick up vocabulary, rhyme, rhythm and many other elements of language via picture books. Because kids memorise picture book text from repeated read-alouds, they practise "reading" to toys and parents from the book and this often almost magically grows into real reading.
Picture books entertain, and they also make us think. One of the most wonderful things of all though, is that they help children imagine. When reading or listening to picture books being read aloud, children are entering the fictive dream and building imagination muscle. We know our 21st Century learners need to be creative thinkers, and for that, they need imagination.
Loving picture books and read-alouds spills over into a love of reading in many children. And a love of reading is one of the most priceless gifts we can give our kids. Whether Supreme Court Judge or lowly book reviewer, people who love to read are more likely to be successful in their studies and in their lives. (Well, that's my theory and I'm sticking to it!)
To celebrate Picture Book Month, why not buy yourself and your kids a present? There are so many great picture books being published nowadays. In Australia, browse online at The Australian Online Bookshop, compare prices at Booko, try Youtube to find new picture books, or check out my Reviews, many of which are picture books. You could pack lunch and head for a bookshop, make your choices, then head to the park for a picnic and an orgy of delightful picture book reading.
Picture Book Month would be a great time to increase your family read-aloud time. Re-visit old picture book friends and borrow/buy new ones. If your children don't have library cards yet, apply for them today and watch your kids' confidence grow as they choose their own books.
How about a picture book party? Bake a picture book cake, dress up as favourite picture book characters, act out your favourite scenes from picture books.
Have your kids tried to create their own picture books? Help them out by looking at a range of picture book styles first. Some writers choose rhyme, some present true facts, other spin fantastical tales. Illustrators might use collage, lino printing, watercolour, or sketching. Children will enjoy creating something they feel passionate about and may want to share the book with younger kids too. Find more information in Book Chook Ideas for Making Books with Kids.
Here's a lovely lullaby you can sing with your little ones about bedtime stories! (Thanks to @playbythebook and @JensBookPage for the discovery!)
Check in to The Book Chook each Wednesday in November for picture book recommendations. Now's the time to begin putting picture books aside as Christmas gifts for the youngsters in your life!
What's YOUR favourite picture book?
You might also like to read: What's the Use of Picture Books? Why Reading Really is Magic What's So Great About Children's Literature?
(Image created with iPad app, DecoSama.)