My story - Why I LOVE Picturebooks
Updated: Sep 16, 2019
“The love of learning, the sequestered nooks, And all the sweet serenity of books” ― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
In a family which was often tempestuous, where there was probably undiagnosed dyslexia and a few other issues, no support networks since we lived out in the middle of nowhere, little cashflow and a fair bit of stress, reading favourite picture books were some of the happiest times we spent together.
They saved my sanity, offering precious time out from challenging situations and made beautiful memories with my kids that will last forever.
Wonderful, marvellously worded and magically illustrated stories like “The Velveteen Rabbit” “Where the Wild Things Are” and of course “Possum Magic” were relished over and over again.
These moments also helped me understand that my two daughters had vastly different learning styles, one being verbal and word oriented, the other being a child who learned visually. The child who was word oriented had no trouble at school, since she could read from an extremely early age.
How well I remember trying to sneak away from two kids under four to indulge in a quiet bath and a few minutes peace. Within seconds I’d hear a "thumpity thump" as my verbal daughter dragged her tiny chair into the bathroom, plonked herself down and stated “Now Mummy, we will read”. And she would. And, fair call, I enjoyed being read to (most of the time...)
My other daughter had more difficulty in the school system as she struggled with words and letters- leading to the completely incorrect perception by her that she was "dumb".
We did our best to show her that she wasn't dumb at all- but we made a few mistakes.
The time my husband and I decided that we’d do an intervention and take it upon ourselves to teach her how to read and spell ‘the’ still looms large in my mind. (BIG mistake.HUGE.)
We picked a book with lots of ‘the’ words. We read. We spelled. We read again. We spelled again.
Finally, after three hellish days of pure torture for all of us we asked “How do you spell ‘the’?” Angelic pink lips uttered the magic letters “T-H-E”.
Elated and, it must be said, puffed up with pride at our success where the system had so obviously failed, we said “Now, show us where “THE” is.”
We looked at the word she’d chosen. " Butter” it said. Humbled, we gave in. Hey, half a victory is better than none, right?
But it was picture books, I discovered, that created a bridge which spanned both learning styles. Although not interested in the words, my visual daughter would discuss the pictures, the colours, the concepts of the story, and what happened when the book finished.
My verbal daughter would read, re-read, think about it, talk about it and sometimes re-write the stories to suit herself.
Together, we did all of these things and more. Along the way both children were inspired, educated and uplifted, their imaginations and emotions kindled into bright flames by picture books.
Today, the verbal child is a University Graduate and Journalist. The visual child is in her third year of University and plans to do Masters, Honours and a PhD (clearly, she did learn how to read- and how!)
Executive director of the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation states “Even gifted children benefit from time with picture books, learning how to get the most out of what they read. Decoding the information in picture books can teach a child not only to read but also to interpret and understand”
This is why I love picture books. There’s nothing more magical and inspirational for our children ( or adults, let's face it) than being exposed to this synergy of art and literature.
Now I am fortunate enough to be a part of making picture books for other kids- our most important audience. It never ceases to thrill me that I'm involved in this artform.
A picture book is an often massive and complex concept, distilled and refined through the process of an author, illustrator and editorial team pouring their combined energy and passion into a crucible of hard work which eventually delivers the alchemical result of those four hundred or so words and fifteen or so images. Picture books can transport us to the moon and beyond, make us laugh, cry, shiver, wonder, imagine, discuss, share and LEARN.
(Just don’t expect miracles if you want to learn to spell ‘the’ okay?)
Talk to you soon,