November is picture book month, and readers, librarians, and writers are celebrating all over the internet. Check out the great picture book month website and read the daily blogs posts written by "picture book champions."
One of the things I love about picture books is they are such a delight to share and read aloud. Picture books are for all ages, infants to adults. My parents read books to me when I was young, and I read to my kids. I even occasionally read picture books to my teenagers; some books beg to be shared. (We couldn't stop laughing when I read Ned Mouse Breaks Away, by Tim Wynne-Jones, to them.)
I've even read picture books a few times to my kids in college, over Skype--this was when I discovered a few incredible picture books during my MFA program that I wished we had read when they were young. (Bark, George! by Jules Feiffer and May I Bring a Friend? by Beatrice Schenk de Regniers.)
We wore out favorite picture books with our frequent readings. I taped pages back into (and sometimes bought a second copy) of many books, including Jamberry, by Bruce Degen; Harold and the Purple Crayon, by Crockett Johnson; and Freight Train, by Donald Crews. I taped covers back on. I accidentally taped the cover back onto the spine of The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear, by Audrey and Don Wood, so the cover was upside down and at the back. It didn't matter--we read it again and again, until pages fell out second and third times.
Some picture books can be read in a few minutes, while story picture books, such as Big Bad Bruce, by Bill Peet (which I've read at least 50 times out loud, as it was one son's favorite for a year) take almost thirty minutes. Yes, I had to tape this book back together too.
Some of my most vivid, emotional reading experiences came while reading picture books. The Arrival, by Shaun Tan, perfectly captured my experience (bewilderment, fear, amazement, adjustment) of moving to a foreign land where I couldn't understand anything or read a word.
I found spending a semester studying picture books at Vermont College of Fine Arts helped me with my novel writing. I discovered new favorites as I read hundreds of picture books--books ranging from The Tragical Death of an Apple Pie--an ABC book from 1840 and Struwwelpeter--a groundbreaking Germany picture book (1845), to the classics, metafiction, and as many Caldecott Award and honor books that I could find.
Each year, I buy picture books for myself, my family, and friends. I love discovering newly written picture books. Recent ones I read and love include Big Bouffant, by Kate Hosford; Big Red Lollipop, By Rukhsana Khan; Out of the Way! Out of the Way! by Uma Krishnaswami; and Do! by Gita Wolf.
I'm looking forward to reading If All the Animals Came Inside, by Eric Pinder as soon as it is published next spring.
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, which means it's time to pull out my favorite seasonal picture book, Thanksgiving at the Tappletons', by Eileen Spinelli and illustrations by Maryann Cocca-Leffler, and read it again.
Here's a wonderful video from picturebookmonth.com with great quotes about the importance of having picture books in our lives: