November 30: Farewell to International Picture Book Month...see you next year

We have reached the last day of November, and the last day of Picture Book Month. It has been an incredible celebration of illustration this year, and of the stories and the champions who shared their thoughts and stories.
I love Picture Book Month! It is so important to remind us all that this is where our reading journey begins...and if we are wise, where it continues throughout life. Not to say that 'word' books aren't important, but without picture books, we would have never developed the visual literacy that allows us to interpret the random symbols that make up our written language. And, we would not have developed the joy, enthusiasm and desire to open another book...and another and another.
Todays' champion (and the final champion for the year), Kevan Atteberry (author/illustrator of BUNNIES! (2015) and PUDDLES! (2016) spoke about his memories of childhood books; how he doesn't really remember being read to, or the individual titles of his childhood stories. What he remembers, what has stayed with him through the years, were the pictures.
I can second that. While I do have some clear memories of a few specific books, in my mind, the young child that lives there is still spending hours pouring over a vast number of illustrations time and again. I find it fascinating and extremely joyous when I come across an illustration from my childhood. I remember that!, I find myself thinking. Then suddenly, everything rushes to the fore; the title, author/illustrator and most of all, the feelings that book gave me. Each one made an indelible mark on me.
Let me give you an example: the first book I can clearly remember was a Little Golden Book, I Am A Bunny by Olé Risom, illustrated by a young Richard Scarry. It was the first book I ever bought for myself. From a shelf full of bright and wonderful cover illustrations, that one of the bunny dressed in dungarees standing under a toadstool in the pouring rain caught me. And each page held me as I journeyed through the seasons with Nicholas ("I am a bunny. My name is Nicholas. I live in a hollow tree...) A simple, quiet story with sparse text...and I remember it all. Because of the pictures. That book made me want to read more, to look at more books, to find out what happens in different lives, different places; and to find comfort and sense in the world of books. That one book, I believe, says something about who am I as a person and taught me....I don't know....something important that has nothing to do with bunnies or seasons or weather. The pictures did that. Silly? Maybe. But, I don't think so.
I hope you have enjoyed reading the posts from all the amazing Picture Book Champions as much as I have. And I hope it has helped you think more deeply about picture books and develop a greater understanding and appreciation for them. Go back over your childhood favourites. pick up new ones, and don't be embarrassed to read picture books again. Picture books feed the soul; the soul of the young and the soul of the not-so-young-anymore.
And I hope you will look forward to Picture Book Month next year. I know I do.


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