Children’s librarians around the country are excited for November, not just because it brings us closer to turkey and cranberry sauce, but because we get to talk about our favorite topic: picture books! November is Picture Book Month, a time to celebrate some of our most beloved books and the role they play in fostering generations of readers.
One of the best things to come from my transition into children’s librarianship has been my reintroduction to children’s books. We grow and move on to more “adult” reading, but the books we read with our families when we were just beginning to understand words and concepts are the books that truly have the greatest impact on how we understand the world. They teach us the basics, like colors, numbers, opposites, and the seasons. But they also teach us more complex lessons that broaden and deepen as we grow: fear, friendship, grief, and love. Philosophers and poets spend lifetimes expounding on the very same questions of existence that well-crafted picture books explain in 32 pages of text and images. It’s incredible when you think about it.
Picture books have inherent nostalgia. They remind us of our own childhoods, and for parents of children who have aged out of picture books, they remind us of our children’s childhoods. Some families pass books down through the generations, like precious family heirlooms.
One of the many, many lessons I have learned as a new children’s librarian: you are never too old to enjoy picture books. Their appeal is timeless and a great book is a great book; it’s something to be appreciated at any age. Wild Things: The Joy of Reading Children’s Literature as an Adult by Bruce Handy has been on my TBR list since its release in August precisely because I know this joy that Handy writes about. An article by Christine Garrow, published only five hours prior to my writing of this, also briefly explains the universal appeal of picture books.
To celebrate Picture Book Month, the LPL children’s librarians are selecting some of their favorite picture books to be displayed throughout the month in our Children’s Department. Some are classics, though maybe it’s been awhile since you’ve even seen them. Others are more contemporary and need a little help to be found, which is why we are so excited to share these “under the radar” favorites with you, as well. We will have dozens and dozens on display, but here’s just a few of our selections:
In this clever and humorous story, a young boys takes expressions like “laugh your head off” and “hold your tongue” too literally, leading to a lot of worries.
Peter Brown’s vibrant illustrations and lovely words tell the story of a young boy who resuscitates a dreary garden, spreading joy and color to his city.
Kitten goes on quite the journey trying to get to her bowl of milk. Henkes’ black and white illustrations are so evocative he rightfully won the Caldecott Medal for this book.
When a young girl is afraid to go to the zoo but can’t remember why, her family imitates animals from A to Z to try to jog her memory. The actual frightening thing at the zoo will surely get a chuckle out of you.
We can’t have a picture book list and not include a book illustrated by Eric Carle. This classic, written by Bill Martin Jr., showcases a succession of vividly created animals, conjured via Carle’s masterful tissue paper collage technique.
Well-meaning though ditzy, Amelia Bedelia is the housekeeper you can’t help but love…even though she dresses your raw chicken in outfits.
Five words: Let the wild rumpus start!
My favorite of the Joyce Sidman/Beth Krommes creations. Sidman’s spare verse is perfectly matched with Krommes’ intricate illustrations. A book as beautiful to look at as it is to read.
We look forward to matching you with some amazing picture books this month (and beyond this month, of course!).
Tomie dePaola, who wrote one of my favorite books from my childhood, Strega Nona, once said, “Reading is important, because if you can read, you can learn anything about everything and everything about anything.” Picture books are the place where that learning begins. It’s the first stop, the gateway, the bridge to all learning that follows. You are never too old to walk across that bridge again.