Welcome November! It's Picture Book Month!
If you have been following this blog for some time, you know that November is Picture Book Month...a celebration of picture books and their importance in the lives of children everywhere. If you go to the Picture Book Month site, you will find a new entry every day by a picture book champion! Authors, storytellers, librarians and teachers (to name a few) offer their words of wisdom on "Why Picture Books Are Important." Each one brings a different slant on the vital art form of picture books and how they are viewed; why children should have constant access to picture books; and some activities to bring their magic into every childs' life.
So why do I think picture books are important? So very many reasons. Picture books offer the very first glimpse into the world of literature and literacy. Becoming competent (in fact, expert!) in visual literacy allows our brains to put together the pathways necessary to read the printed word and understand what we are reading. (You must be able to interpret the random symbols that letters and words actually are in order to read.) Also, they are an introduction to art; sometimes the only access to art that children will get. They learn about beauty, the construction of things, the world and people around them and those they will never meet or see. Emotional literacy shines through in picture books in ways that allow them to understand empathy and difference, and to determine concepts such as right and wrong on the most basic levels. Picture books can touch on concepts that are difficult to discuss and bring understanding. But, primarily, it is for the sheer joy a young child gets from a picture book...the story, the patterns, the light and shade all open up a sense of aesthetic understanding. And children remember that throughout their lives. Through these things, we learn to understand the world and life, and develop coping mechanisms that will see us through tough times.
Personally, I still feel great comfort, joy and catharsis through a good picture book. My all time, lifelong favourites are still with me....Where the Wild Things Are, Goodnight Moon, I Am A Bunny...
Finally, I want to pass on some sad news. The founder of Picture Book Month; A Celebration, Dianne de Las Casas, passed away suddenly this past August. But the co-founders (Elizabeth O. Dulemba, Marcie Colleen, Joyce Wan, Katie Davis and Wendy Martin), while feeling the huge gap Dianne left behind in the realm of childrens literacy programmes, are determined to keep her legacy alive and well. Each day on the calendar is filled with exciting and wonderful insights this year. Please, check it out....and bring more picture books into your world, regardless of your age. Let's all celebrate!