Picture Books Can Be for All Ages
February 13, 2012
When was the last time you read a picture book? If you aren’t dealing with children who are interested in books at this age level, then chances are you haven’t been browsing these titles. However, picture books can be clever, bright, works of art - gems to be enjoyed at any age.
I am not referring to the copious volumes of stories about popular TV characters. I am talking about individual authors and individual titles that inspire creative thought. Just for starters, why not open discussion about the role of mediators in Political Science classes by reading Doreen Cronin’s Click,Clack, Moo: Cows that Type? It may seem simplistic, but what a fun way to broach the topic! Another book that is pure fun is David Wiesner’s award winning book Tuesday. It’s hard not to laugh "reading" this book even though it only has about 10 words! Wiesner’s art is fantastic, and it only gets more fantastical in his other books like Sector 7 and Flotsam. Of course, no discussion of great illustrator/authors of children’s book would be complete without mentioning the phenomenal work by Chris Van Allsburg. Most people are aware of his Polar Express and possibly Jumanji, which have been made into popular movies. However, Van Allsburg has many, many more books with creative and enticing pictures to send your imagination soaring. He is another picture book author that I believe could be used well in the high school classroom. His Mysteries of Harris Burdick was designed to be "story starters" for creative writing classes. Just recently, other authors have taken on the challenge and published a newer version called The Chronicles of Harris Burdick, where they have been compelled to write their own stories for those illustrations.
Obviously, art is a huge part of a picture book (since they have lots of "pictures!") and not all authors are illustrators. One of my favorite picture books is Smoky Mountain Rose: an Appalachian Cinderella by Alan Schroeder and illustrated by Brad Sneed. Sneed’s uniquely marvelous art brings a sweet and humorous twist to this love story that can be appreciated by all ages. Another picture book that has outstanding art is Phyllis Root’s Big Momma Makes the World. Her story tells a tale as old as time in a beautiful a new way. Every year someone in my family gets a picture book (or two) as a gift. They are timeless treasures that I believe should be shared.