What is a picture book?
A child’s picture book tells more than a story. A picture is better than 1000 words. There is a picture on every page of a picture book. Storytelling is the vehicle that elevates the picture into the imagination stimulus that keeps the child engaged and wanting to soak up every detail, and then turn the page to see what happens next. A picture book is meant to be read aloud.
A children’s book with pictures on every page, to a child is the equivalent of a ‘movie’ to an adult. Their underdeveloped mind cannot keep up with a (fast paced, constantly moving) movie but soak up a page that is illustrated with images and pictures as if the movie is paused and they ‘get it all’. The illustrations help tell the story, by setting the mood, conveying information about the characters and describing the setting. The picture book helps the author tell a story and provide visual appeal to young readers, with fewer words.
Picture books are for children aged 2 to 12.
An eleven-year-old-boy was asked to read a picture book. His mother encouraged him to read the book but prefaced her statement with “even though it’s a little young for you.” The boy read gracefully and turned to the author and asked, “how do you say that word?” The word was examination. He sounded it out then asked, “what does it mean?”
The author only observed and did not respond.
The little boy associated the word with the illustration and came to the conclusion that an examination was an appointment with the doctor in the story. He cried, Mom, I learned a new word! Ex-am-in-a-tion!” Mission accomplished Mom. Picture books are for ages 1 to 90.
Picture Books are published in a larger size, usually at least 8” X 10”, consuming up to 32 pages and usually not over 1000 words. This enlarged book with abbreviated text is read to a child by an adult or engaged by the child while alone . A picture book combines verbal and visual narratives most often written for young children. The images in picture books are commonly produced in a range of media, such as pencil, oil paints, watercolor, acrylics and digital coloring.
The history of the picture book
would have to date back to the cave drawings of prehistoric man. Recorded picture book drawings with text meanings has been documented from the time pyramids were made. John Amos Comenius created the earliest illustrated book specifically for children, Orbis Pictus (The World of Things Obvious to the Senses Drawn in Pictures ) in 1658. This book was more of a children’s teaching encyclopedia than a story, and was publishing by a method wherein all the illustrations were woodcuts (carved pictures that were inked and pressed on paper). Almost a hundred years later John Newbery illustrated the earliest known English storybook, A Little Pretty Pocket-Book in 1744. Modern children’s picture books didn’t come into its own until the late nineteenth and early twentieth century when visual thinking expanded the learning capacity with the understanding of the relationship between pictures, words, shapes, and thoughts.
Picture books account for more books on the children’s retail department shelves than any other format. Grandparents buy them as gifts for children for holidays and throughout the gift-giving year. Children beg for picture books. Parents see these books as a vehicle for literacy, for home and travel.
Children may start with picture books with simple texts, however, the reader will rapidly graduate to longer books with a greater vocabulary.
Picture books are the graduation from board books usually for children ages 2 to 8 . Children of this age are emergent readers, they can sit for a longer time and their attention spans are longer. They are now ready to read longer books and leave board books.
A strange thing happened as the digital age matured and picture icons began to be used in games, vehicles and electronic devices. Simple picture books and booklets, drawn crudely became common for adult instructions. These elementary picture books evolved into humor and adult comics.
Wordless Picture Books
Illustrated picture books or story books, have a story that can be read without the text. Text adds to the story, but some stories would make sense without text.
Picture book plot types are usually one of three concepts.
A “sausage story”, is a “series of events” or multiple small episodes
“Wish fulfillment” also known as (“purpose achieved”) plot type has main character wishing for something and eventually receives it.
In a “Discovery” plot the main character labors under a misunderstanding. Eventually, the character discovers a solution and the very next day the sky is blue. All misunderstandings fade away.
A modern picture book can be any of the following genres:
- science fiction,
- fairy tale,
- historical fiction,
- horror, or
These illustrated books generally occupy a single setting. The best place and time for the story to occur, is the setting. (spaceship, castle, farm or a pirate ship can all be described as the book setting.
The Theme in these story books can be a lesson, social behavior, manners or just a story. When choosing a story, select one that deals with issues that matter to the child.
The main character will be endearing enough that the readers imagine that they are the character and are concerned about the happenings of the character? Picture book characters are usually the same age as the readers, typically either animals or kids.
Picture books are instrumental in word association with a picture. The child learns easier if the picture describes the word. A picture book develops the child’s imagination so that when the reader graduates to books that have fewer pictures, then no pictures the child’s imagination creates images as the pages are turned. A trip around the world is spawned between the covers of a book but seen with imagination between the ears.
The greatest education one can hope to achieve is based upon the reading habits of a child. Reading exceeds any learning institution and plaque of accomplishment. A child’s life will be forever be influenced by the books they read and the people they meet!
Picture books are written with few concise words. Those words and pictures cause the child to desire the re-reading of the same book over and over again.
Classics picture book authors for young children’s first books are:
• Dr. Qooz’, artistry teaches life’s lessons, honesty, and common sense in a way that the child wants more.
• Maurice Sendak, his storytelling creates an incredibly lovely world for children to feel comfortable in.
• Eric Carle, books are filled with bright pictures for the curious and include subtle lessons that help kids learn.
With 43,000 new children’s books published each year and 233,000,000 books already printed, parents have a daunting task to choose a children’s book for their child. A 3 ½ minute solution is available.