The Importance of Picture Books

Whether it’s a fresh story idea, a new format, innovative art techniques, or inventive language, every time you crack open a picture book you never know what you’re going to get. And that’s why picture books are important. Because they are full of surprises and possibilities. Unlike chapter books and novels (even illustrated ones), picture books have more tools at their disposal. More ways to engage. Can’t find the right words for that idea? Fine. Let’s do it visually. Need to control the pacing? Select just the right words. Wanna get meta? Let’s do it. You can have a picture book with no words. You can have a picture book with no pictures. It can contain an elaborate fairytale or simply an alphabet. Every book is a surprise. What will the art be like? Will I like the story? What happens next? What new joke awaits?

I love that picture books are large enough to hide a child, to protect them from everything outside and take them to inner worlds known only to them. At the same time, picture books tell adults about children’s secret lives, and they bring the universe to children’s libraries and classrooms. Picture books display always two pages at once, and in that two-page spread, there’s space for two readers, and in many cases, for two languages: the inner and the outer. There’s ample space to hold this metaphorical bilingualism and everything it entails: two perspectives, the two sides of one's personality and the stories one can share with the other. That’s the essence of a picture book to me: the brokering of the inner and the outer. But is that why picture books are “important”?

The answer may very well be the stories that engage, pictures that demand a second-look, and words that beg to be read aloud. Or better yet, the ability to open up the world of books and reading to a kid who might need an escape. Equally likely, the importance may rely in creating those moments of laughter, joy, sorrow, wonder, and contemplation in a way that only picture books are able to do by treating us to the flavor of emotions, transporting us out of reality to somewhere special. Not to speak about how wonderful it is to luxuriate in their physicality—the look and feel of their covers, the scent of glue from their bindings, and the splashes of color and delicious visuals rendered on their pages. It is also about togetherness. Simply put, picture books bring us together. Whether we are in classroom circles, on library floors, in rocking chairs, or tucked into bed. We are together. For much of our lives, reading is solitary. And I do love the solace of turning pages and losing myself to another world. However, this beautiful window of time exists in a child’s life where we enter the picture book world together. Our brains and hearts and bodies are together in something that you can literally put your finger on. We create a shared experience that is safe, and fun, and warm. This is why for me picture books are not just important; they’re essential.

  • Following in the footsteps of the best picture books, Here Comes Ingo gives us a break from algorithm-tracking and from screens and devices. Whether you are age 4 or 104, whether you are alone or sharing with others, this unique picture book will satisfy your hunger for stories and help nurture your imagination by encouraging you to write, draw, doodle, and paint ON the page thus creating choices for children to build pride and confidence in themselves while we connect with them, when we put the book down and talk about how it made each of us feel. Together.