I love picture books. I read them every day with my preschoolers. Some of them get read every day, while others lounge on the shelf half of forever before being noticed. So what makes a good picture book?
Okay, what makes a good picture book in my opinion?
- My favorite picture books are those where the text and the pictures work together and independently to create a richer meaning. This doesn’t mean it has to be a picture search. Rather, I want the text and the words to complement each other. A great example: Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak.
- My second favorite kind of picture book is one that uses the page turn. What does this mean? I love the pauses that turning a page creates. It’s a chance to catch your breath and lounge in the moment. It’s a chance to rev my imagination. It’s suspense at its finest. A time where I am surprised and delighted to turn the page. A great example: The Very Cranky Bear by Nick Bland.
- Another favorite trait? Lyrical language. I heart The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson. If ever a writer has mastered the art of economy, it is Ms. Donaldson in this book.
- What else do I love? Turning the page and finding the unexpected. There’s a Nightmare in My Closet by Mercer Mayer rocks my socks off.
- A good belly laugh is almost always appreciated by parents and kids alike. Laughing out loud with a child is the most magical connection we can have with the little people. A great read: Diary of a Worm by Doreen Cronin.
- Another important component in changing a book from a casual read to a daily favorite is readability, including cadence and rhythm. If I can’t pronounce the words, if the sentences don’t flow or if I’m tripping over my tongue with poetic, but unnatural prose, I will curse the book in words I can’t pronounce, but most certainly do flow. Then I’ll throw it in the give-a-way pile, never to be seen again. To this end, I love Speedy Little Race Cars by Dawn Bentley.
- An absolute must for me as a mom and a preschool teacher is the read-again factor. There are times I literally close the last page of a book and open the beginning for a second, back-to-back reading. If I hate the characters, the plot, or if any of the above mentioned factors aren’t done well, I will recycle the book quicker than I slap annoying mosquitoes. One I’ve loved listening to as a kid and now love reading as an adult is Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day! by Judith Viorst.
So there you go. A completely unscientific list of books and the reasons why I (and my preschoolers) love them.
What is your favorite picture book and why is it a compelling read?