The Essentials: Picture Books
By Jessica on September 7th, 2011
There are books; and then there are the Essentials. Those are the books that typify their genre. Librarians, and book lovers alike, all have their opinions. Invariably someone will ask: “If I was going to read one [insert a genre of book here] book, which should it be?” Here at OOM, we decided to attempt to answer that question.
When you think of stories read at bedtime, you think of picture books. Childhood is filled with picture books. They are wondrous; they foster imagination like very few things. The stories in picture books are fun even when explaining serious things that maybe don’t make sense to children in an adult world, yet. The pictures help the stories being told to a little one who are too young to read the words. If you have ever had a young child “read” the pictures to you, mimicking their own experiences at story time, you know just how essential pictures are to children…and adults. They are essential to making us who we are and allowing us the pleasure to be anything we want to be.
When we started talking about picture books, I thought that this would be an easy question because so many of us, regardless of what we read today, know and remember picture books. I was incorrect. (Well, it wasn’t the first time!) For you, dear OOM readers, we carried on like the good book lovers we are. Today, we attempt to answer the question: If I were going to read one picture book, which should it be?”
Michael: As I have already blogged several times about how much I love Giraffes Can’t Dance and The Sneeches, I will have to pick a book the Librarian in our midst will appreciate: Book! Book! Book! by Deborah Bruss and Tiphanie Beeke. (Ed. note: Wy yes, I do appreciate it. Thank you, Michael!)
Lauren: My essential picture book is The Pain and the Great One, by Judy Blume. It’s a hilarious, poignant book about sibling relationships broken down in a way even the youngest children can understand and relate to. From the basic humor that will make any kid laugh to the nuanced details that any sibling will appreciate, and the classic situations brothers and sisters will empathize with, it’s a great book for everyone. It’s also timeless. First published in 1974, this book still hits the sibling relationship nail on the head almost 40 years later.
Morgan: My pick for essential picture book is the Madeline series. I would often escape into the lush illustrations, enthralled by the idea of boarding school and Paris (and I fully credit the books for turning me into the Francophile I am today).
Yanique: I LOVE Dizzy by Jonah Winter and illustrated my boo Sean Qualls (secret crush)…this 2007 ALA Notable Children’s Book is a wonderful story about the life of a young Jazz great – Dizzy Gillespie. The book is beautifully illustrated and shows how music can change people’s perception of you and change your perception of yourself.
Jessica: Thanks to my sister, Sheep in a Jeep by Nancy E. Shaw & Margo Apple will always have a special place in my heart. For me though, one of my favorite picture books from childhood was Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crocket Johnson. I loved the story of a boy with his crayon and his adventures through this imagination.
Among those individual books, let us please not forget those suggestions that start with “Anything by…” For picture books, please don’t forget anything written by the always imaginative and fun Dr. Seuss. He was Lauren and Tyler’s pick but I too can’t imagine a childhood without Dr. Seuss’ books. Finally ,there is nothing more exciting than seeing “classic” picture books as they hit library and store shelves brand new. Because of this, I suggest anything by Mo Willems. His books (the Pigeon series, the Knuffle Bunny books, Elephant and Piggie books, Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed, among so many others) are funny and very relatable to both children and adults. If you don’t know his books, please check them out. You will thank me.
So those are our suggestions for picture books. Now, I know…we missed some. This is where you come in! Leave us a comment and tell us what your essential picture book suggestion is!