My business world is that of picture books... reading, writing, reviewing and keeping tabs on what's hot and what's not. There has been much buzz of late, arguing that the picture book is dead. Whether it's because of the e-book world or simply because kids are moving into chapter books and early readers earlier than ever before, but regardless of the reasons for this argument, I disagree, wholeheartedly! Picture books offer such beauty and wonder, and to kill them off would be beyond tragic. They are poetic, they are artistic, and perhaps most importantly, they are a forum in which to bond with your child, discuss pressing and relevant topics, and they are an opportunity to foster an early and positive literacy experience.
Books can do so much! We should appreciate them for all they are. We are all starved to find quality time with our kids, and picture books are a perfect avenue through which to achieve this. A picture book, when used properly, can be the stepping stone to open dialogue between you and your child about a plethora of topics. If something is bothering your child and they're having trouble verbalizing it, a picture book can be the tool you use to extract that information.
I'm often asked by parents for book recommendations based on specific topics, whether it be fear of shadows, shyness in school, adjusting to having a new sibling, to name a few. Picture books can serve as a wonderful parenting tool. We just have to use them!
The Circus Ship, written by Chris VanDusen (Candlewick Press, 2009) offers a fun and funny way to talk to our kids about leadership, and the importance of treating others with respect. Louder Lili, by Gennifer Choldenko (Scholastic, 2007) gives us a way tangible and constructive way to help our quiet child be heard, while Sophie Peterman Tells the Truth!, by Sarah Weeks (Beach Lane Books, 2009) is an adorable and comical way for our kids to help welcome a baby into the home.
A picture book can simply be about fostering imagination and fun and creativity. Books can generate laughs, discussion, quality time and love. Love for one another, love for books and love for creativity and art. One of my favourite artistic books is Blackout by John Rocco (Disney Hyperion, 2011). When a Dragon Moves In by Jodi Moore (Flash Light Press, 2011) also offers a fun and whimsical tale of imagination.
Children's books also reach far beyond simple kid issues... If you're looking to find an age appropriate way to discuss very grown-up issues with your child, why not turn to picture books to help you? We all want to shelter our little ones from unimaginable tragedies, but when the time is right, you'll need a way to speak to them about it. Hope For Haiti by Jesse Joshua Watson (G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2010) is a wonderful way to explain the heartbreak in Haiti and other such natural disasters.
Multiculturalism and acceptance is often a difficult topic to kidify, but there are phenomenal picture books to help. Big Red Lollipop by Rukhsana Khan (Viking 2010) is one such example.
The shelves are loaded with potential parenting tools for us. They are at our disposal... we just have to reach out, open them up, and allow ourselves to use them. To underestimate the power of a picture book is missing out on an unopened treasure.