Monday, 22 June 2015

The importance of picture books – articles, links, publications and some great quotes

I love children’s picture books and I am always delighted when I’m asked for courses about using them. Announcement day for the prestigious Greenaway Award for best illustrated children’s book seems like the ideal time draw attention to useful blogs, publications and websites about picture books. And I can’t resist including some powerful quotes, to demonstrate the enormous value of this fabulous and very diverse medium.

grillFirst of all though, a mention of the Greenaway winner. Shackleton’s Journey by William Grill is a fabulous non-fiction picture book with stunning illustrations. It was moving to hear Grill talk at the award ceremony about his struggles with reading as a child, and his desire to create books that are accessible for children who find reading difficult.

Levi Pinfold says ‘The joy of picture books is how much you soak in without realising it. Judging things by what you see has just as much meaning as fiction.’

I am a huge fan of Shaun Tan’s books, and I very much admire what he says about picture books: ‘For me, a successful picture book is one in which everything is presented to the reader as a speculative proposition, wrapped in invisible quotation marks, as if to say “what do you make of this?” ’ As Mary Roche says in her book listed below ‘There is no space here for passive listening.’

I loathe the view that picture books are just for young children. So does Mathew Tobin, and he’s written an excellent piece about their importance for all ages. Trevor Cairney’s blog Why older readers should read picture books is valuable too, as is Picture books for all on the British Council site. Anthony Browne tells us ‘Picture books are for everybody at any age, not books to be left behind as we grow older. The best ones leave a tantalising gap between the pictures and the words, a gap that is filled by the reader’s imagination.’ Here’s Shaun Tan again: ‘There is an appealing simplicity of form, which is not to say that it is necessarily simple: The restrained coupling of text and image can contain any level of poetic sophistication or complexity.’

All of these websites and books are very well worth a look:

  • Marianne Bradnock, Picture Books from 0 to 90, School Library Association, 2015, ISBN 9781903446850
  • Illustrated Books
  • Picture Book Den
  • Mary Roche, Developing Children’s Critical Thinking through Picture Books, Routledge, 2014, ISBN 9780415727723
  • Martin Salisbury, 100 Great Children’s Picturebooks, Lauence King, 2015, ISBN 9781780674087
  • Martin Salisbury and Morag Styles, Children’s Picturebooks: The Art of Visual Storytelling, Laurence King, 2012, ISBN 9781856697385
  • Talking Beyond the Page: Reading and Responding to Picture Books, ed. Janet Evans, Routledge, 2009, ISBN 9780415476966