This month is Picture Book Month. It is celebrated both nationally and internationally and founded by author-storyteller Dianne de Las Casas. The goal is to simply share the love of the picture book especially during a time when digital books seem to be taking over as a new medium. When I saw that picture books were being celebrated during the month of November, I was immediately reminded of times when I saw adults react like children as they listened to the reading of a picture book.
Authors and illustrators have the children in mind when they collaborate in the writing and the painting of accompanying pictures to tell a story. But, I have been at meetings and conferences when I could hear a pin drop during the reading of a picture book. Case and point? Adults love picture books as well!
First, the reader needs to know how to hold the picture book where the hand is steady as both pages are faced out. The reader also needs to know how to swirl around and walk through the crowd during the reading to keep everyone in the audience engaged. Also, it helps if the reader has studied the text beforehand to make sure that there is a smooth fluent flow as the story unfolds.
Four books come to mind when I think of adults enjoying the beauty of picture books. One woman read The Paperboy by Dav Pilkey. When she finished, I went up to her to see the cover. I later purchased it for our library collection. It’s about a boy about ten years old who gets up before dawn to prepare for his paper route. We see him rolling the papers and putting rubber bands around them. We see him riding his bike while it is still dark as he delivers newspapers on his route. By the time he returns home, the family is still sleep and just about to get up for the day.
A second book that had a lasting impact was the reading of Jacqueline Woodson’s The Other Side. It is about an African-American girl and a white girl who regularly meet at a fence which divides their communities. They sit on the fence, talk and bond as friends. This is during segregation and together, they are breaking down barriers. The subject matter was memorable and the presenter had an easy reading style.
No, David by David Shannon was the third book and read by a former coworker. Her inflections caught my attention when she emphatically said, ‘No! David’. He is a little mischievous boy who plays ball in the house, breaks a vase or talks with food in his mouth. The children love this book and they enjoy repeating, ‘No! David’, along with the reader, as if they are reprimanding a younger sibling.
And last, there was Too Many Tamales by Gary Soto. This time I read it to a group of teachers. The response was great and many wanted to see the cover as well. It is about a young girl who is helping prepare tamales for a Christmas gathering. Her mother lets her try on her wedding ring and it gets lost in the tamales. They have to start eating the tamales to locate the ring.
Digital books are easy to upload but absolutely nothing can take the place of a printed picture book. It is something that must be held, studied and appreciated for its art. Illustrators have equal billing in this genre of books. Their art truly helps sell the story! Though picture books have been created with children in mind, they entertain adults as well. I watched those four books transport adults back to the magical times of their childhoods in a swift and colorful way!
Lynn November 4, 2014