November is Picture Book Month! These familiar kinds of declarations are about often subtle, but uniquely important things in a culture, like religious holidays, family celebrations and community traditions. Each one declares that for this community, it’s unique… there’s nothing quite like it.
It should be no surprise that here at Unite for Literacy we celebrate picture books every day of every month. That November has been declared to be the official picture book month is occasion for lots of back slapping and high-fiving for us.
Picture books are the doorway through which those new to reading most easily enter the world of literacy. With lively images, accompanying simple but elegant English text that builds upon those images, and (in the case of our Wondrously Infinite Global Library) fluent native speaker narrations to provide the bridge between mother tongue and the language of instruction at schools, we think that picture simple picture books like ours (I guess ALL picture books) are the most important resources to build school and life success.
If you haven’t spent much time with picture books since you (or your kids) were little, we encourage you to give them another look this month. We’re not just talking about books for babies, although baby books really must be richly visual. We’re talking about all picture books, from cloth and plastic books for infants to chew on to wordless picture books that engender wonderful bed-time discussions, to Caldecott winners that know no age limits in their appeal, to coffee table books on ancient civilizations or natural wonders for adults. Pictures totally enrich the reading experience, most particularly for young children and adult casual browsers. The mysteries of text then becomes all the more accessible for those just learning to read.
Permit us to make some recommendations to you about how to celebrate this lovely event of Picture Book month?
- Get out some old favorites from the attic or basement or the local library. Let yourself drift into them as if into a dream. Savor the meanings they have for you now as well as those you may recall from your childhood.
- Peruse the shelves of children’s libraries (like ours for instance), used and new book stores, supermarkets and garage / yard sales.
- Celebrate by identifying one or more you find personally compelling and contributing them to a child’s personal collection, a Little Free Library in your neighborhood, or a shelter for homeless families.
In short we encourage you to take a few moments to appreciate what literacy has done for you and how picture books contributed to those joys.
Books are for sharing. They are most valuable when they are read, enjoyed and passed along. Sharing Picture Books with children (and other adults!), either by physically handing a printed picture book, or sending a link to a digital picture book is the best kind of “pay it forward.”
This celebration is one that will occur each year, adding another reason to give thanks during November. Like your family’s traditional Thanksgiving meal, good picture books will be a delicious treat for the mind and soul to accompany the joys of cooking and breaking bread together.
I mean really…There’s nothing quite like it.