We all know about books’ benefits for children. But have we ever thought of importance of illustrations? Not only pictures in books help child to grasp the plot, they often serve as his very first encounter with art. Long before visits to museum, picture books are there to entice visual pleasure. The one who understood it best, was Eric Carle when he founded Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art.
What does it mean for us, parents? It means the books we choose for our little (and not so little) ones may not just develop their minds, but help them relate to the world around them, express their emotions, expend their imagination, and do so much more!
So, how to choose a book that would provide child with both, great literary and visual experience? One way, of course, is to rely on our own taste or childhood memory. Another way, is to look for books awarded Caldecott Medal, although, there are many great books with amazing illustrations that never got awarded anything.
Here are just a few suggestions of my favorite authors who, often, are amazing illustrators as well.
- Chris Van Allsburg, the author of Polar Express. Make sure to check his other incredible books, like Zathura, Jumanji, Just a Dream, and The Sweetest Fig. For older children (yes, picture books are still important even if your child is reading chapter books!) check out The Stranger, Queen of the Falls, and The Chronicles of Harris Burdick (this one could be used to provide writing prompts for creative writing or just for making up stories.)
- Maurice Sendack, the author of Where the Wild Things. Here are less known books by this enormously talented author and illustrator: In the Night Kitchen, The Sign on Rosie’s Door, Chicken Soup with Rice, and my favorite, Little Bear series (although Sendack only illustrated them.)
- Laurent de Brunhoff. I love Babar. Even though, the original 6 books, like The Story of Babar were written and illustrated by Laurent de Brunhoff’s father, Jean de Brunhoff, later books continued in the same style as original ones.
- Steven Kellogg. From The Mysterious Tadpole to the tall tales like Paul Bunyan, Johnny Appleseed, and many more, his books are always bright and upbeat.
- Patricia Polacco wrote and illustrated such a remarkable variety of books! My favorite one, though, is for older kids (here we go again, I love picture books for older kids too!) Pink and Say.
- Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake, a great duo, produced well known and loved James and the Giant Peach, The BFG, Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and many others. I invite you, though, to check out their books of poetry, like Vile Verses.