by Matthew Del Busto
Whether you’re one year old, 100 years old, or anywhere in between, picture books hold a special charm. Who doesn’t smile when they hear a line from Go, Dog, Go or Where the Wild Things Are? Let’s travel down memory lane and take a look at just some of the many reasons why picture books always have that special appeal.
1. The Warm Fuzzies
Of course, not every picture book will give us these, but after reading so many children’s books I usually come away with the warm fuzzies. You know what I mean…that special feeling of hope or happiness you get at the end of picture books, whether it’s seeing how special Chester feels when he brings his mom’s Kissing Hand to school, or seeing the Grinch’s heart grow three sizes. There’s a certain sense of wonder that comes with each page of a picture book as we soak up the beautiful words and illustrations, making the warm fuzzies seem appropriate no matter what age we are.
2. Quick to Read
I love being able to open a book and close it in the same sitting—and I’m not alone. It was Edgar Allan Poe, after all, who argued in his essay, “Philosophy of Composition,” that readers should be able to start and finish a story in the same sitting. There’s something refreshing about turning away from thick chapter books or lengthy academic material and instead opening a quick story that I can start, finish, and thoroughly enjoy in just 10 minutes.
3. Kids Love Them
It’s true! Who among us has not witnessed the joy of a child being read Go, Dog, Go at least once in our lives? At home, there used to be a picture on our refrigerator of my dad reading it to my pajama-wearing little brother on the ottoman in our computer room, and both of them look like they’re exactly where they’re supposed to be. There’s something so honest and poignant about the love of little kids that makes me trust their judgment when they believe something to be good—and they definitely seem to like picture books.
4. The Rhyming
Who can resist some good rhyming? How could I help but want to sing along and wave to the cows after reading these lines from Yes, Let’s: “Let’s get into the station wagon, roll those windows down. Let’s sing out loud and wave to cows as we drive out of town.” The playfulness and cleverness of rhyming in kid’s books will always charm and delight.
5. Great Messages
Picture books don’t only help kids get excited about reading—they also help them learn values and lessons. The underlying messages in a picture book often help our little ones learn how to distinguish between right and wrong, as well as how to make good decisions. Plus, these messages are sure to give you the warm fuzzies (see Number 1).
6. The Pictures
This may seem obvious, since we’re discussing picture books, but I think that illustrations deserve a moment to simply be enjoyed. Check out the cover of Miss You Like Crazy, illustrated by Jennifer A. Bell. Look at those squirrels’ tails! They’re absolutely adorable! (It probably wouldn’t hurt to let you know that the small squirrel’s name is Walnut.) The illustrations within picture books elevate the text and make the story come alive.
7. Memories of Childhood
Picture books are complete nostalgia. I love seeing younger family members (or even random kids in doctors’ offices) reading picture books that I absolutely adored as a kid—it makes me think of getting read to every night before bed, always begging my mom for “just one more!”
8. Great Bedtime Stories
Speaking of getting read to every night before bed—picture books are great for this! They usually have positive messages, they’re not too long, and they’re a great, fun, and relaxing way to wind down before bed, whether you’re reading to a little one or just want a quick, light read yourself before turning off the lights.
9. They Can Be Goofy
Finally, a genre where it is acceptable to talk about farts! It All Began With a Bean explores the timeless question, “What would happen if everyone in the world farted at once?” This is something sure to delight those in their “bathroom humor” years, as well as all of us who pretend like we are out of those years! Regardless of the type of goofiness, the silliness with which picture books are often accompanied makes them funny and just plain fun to to read.
10. Great Presents
Getting gifts is hard, especially when kids seem to go through toys that are “the next best thing” every two weeks. You know what never goes out of style? A classic children’s book that you can be sure both child and parent will enjoy.
Need I say more? Any picture book that has pop-ups is simply a joy. Pop-ups have a special way of bringing the words and images on the page to life.
12. Sharing Laughs
So many picture books are just plain funny, making them a joy to read. Laughing along with a young one at the silliness of a good picture book is priceless. Just try and keep a straight face when reading The Book With No Pictures aloud to a loved one.
13. Experiencing a Story and Pictures at the Same Time
Let’s not overthink why we love picture books too much, though. First, books are great. Second, pictures are great (see Number 6). Picture books are a combination of this—we get both a visual and textual representation of a delightful story. How could we do anything but smile?
14. Fostering Creativity & Imagination
When Harold (in Harold and the Purple Crayon) creates an entire world for himself with just a purple crayon, our brains light up with possibility—the book invites children (and adults) to imagine what they’d draw for themselves. Picture books do such a wonderful job of inspiring young minds to think outside the box and color outside the lines.
15. Conversation Starters
Picture books can get us talking, especially with young ones. Chester Raccoon and the Acorn Full of Memories dives into a pretty tough topic—death and dealing with grief. But the heartwarming story of Chester—in which he finds a special acorn that will remind him of his friend who is gone—is a great segway into a conversation with your young ones about not only what it means to lose someone, but also what it means to remember them.
These are just some of the reasons that picture books make us smile. Of course, it almost seems a discredit to picture books to keep our love of them to only 15 points. Why do you love picture books? Let us know by tweeting us at @TanglewoodPub and join in on the nostalgia!