“A picturebook unlike an illustrated book, is properly conceived of as a unit, a totality that integrates all the designated parts in a sequence in which the relationships among them are crucial to understanding the book.” (Johnson, 2012, p. 73). Picturebooks span various genres and touches the way readers create meaning from the text. From books where words are left out and the picture encompasses the meaning of the book, we can learn to appreciate the importance pictures in a book can have.
When discussing picturebooks, it’s important we know what kind of categories of picturebooks there are. We have Mother Goose Stories, Concept Books, Alphabet Books, Counting Books, Wordless picturebooks, Toy books, Pop-up books, Easy-to-read books, Picture storybooks, and Postmodern picturebooks. Along with these categories of picturebooks, there are different styles of illustration, such as representational, surrealistic, impressionistic, cartoon, expressionistic and native/folk art. We can also use media in these illustrations; paint and graphics. Lastly, by using various crafting techniques; leads, figurative language, making a long story short, repetition of a sentence or phrase, and understatement, we can convey our written meaning in the text.
“Picturebooks can play an important role in children’s language and literacy development by enriching their learning experiences through storytelling, elaborating on concepts, or conveying information.” (Johnson, 2012, p. 97). Ways us as teachers can help in this important role is by making meaning from picturebooks and learning how to read picturebooks. There are also a variety of ways children can respond to such readings; modeling and discussion, literature response journal, making books, drama; reader’s theater and research; author/illustrator study. Lastly, we can make connections across the curriculum. In math, a picturebook can help relieve a child’s anxiety on math subjects. In science, a picturebook can show children the vibrancy of their surrounding world. In art, a picturebook, like a pop-up book, can show the creativity of what art can do. Lastly, in history, a picturebook can make connections between past events and present events.
Literature Examples:A Sick Day for Amos McGee, by Philip C. Stead, 2010, Grades 1-2/Picturebook, The Caldecott Honor Book and Best Illustrated Children’s Book Awards: The New York Times Book ReviewA dedicated zookeeper of the City Zoo, Amos McGee, spends time with his friends, the elephant, the tortoise, the penguin, the rhinoceros, and the owl every day. When he wakes up sick one day, his friends come to visit, comfort and take care of him at home.
A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams, 1984, Grades 3-4/Picturebook, 1984 Caldecott Honor Book
A young girl, Rosa, and her mother, a waitress, work at the local diner, Blue Tile Diner. Every day after work, they take theirs tips and save their money in a jar. After losing their house and possessions in a fire, they lost something they needed most, one big, comfortable chair that both can enjoy, including grandmother. After saving and saving and turning their coins into cash, they were able to be a big, comfy chair and found the perfect one that all could rest after a hard day’s work.
American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang, 2006, Grades 5-6/Graphic Novel, 2007 Michael L. Printz Award Winner, 2007 Eisner Award Winner Best Graphic Alubm – New, 2006 National Book Award Nominee“Jin Wang starts at a new school where he's the only Chinese-American student. When a boy from Taiwan joins his class, Jin doesn't want to be associated with an FOB like him. Jin just wants to be an all-American boy, because he's in love with an all-American girl. Danny is an all-American boy: great at basketball, popular with the girls. But his obnoxious Chinese cousin Chin-Kee's annual visit is such a disaster that it ruins Danny's reputation at school, leaving him with no choice but to transfer somewhere he can start all over again. The Monkey King has lived for thousands of years and mastered the arts of kung fu and the heavenly disciplines. He's ready to join the ranks of the immortal gods in heaven. But there's no place in heaven for a monkey. Each of these characters cannot help himself alone, but how can they possibly help each other? They're going to have to find a way--if they want fix the disasters their lives have become.”