As a homeschooler, I always thought building a language-rich homeschool meant getting everyone to become strong readers and then off we’d all go. Reading novels, and chapter books, and great works of literature. What I didn’t anticipate was how much I would MISS those snugly moments curled up in our library children’s section with a pile of picture books. Or spending chilly winter afternoons sitting together on the couch reading book after book.
My kids are 11 and 8, and are both strong independent readers. We do read together quite a lot still, but it’s usually from our lesson books or chapter books and novels. Gone are the days of picture books.
Until I was asked by Raincoast Books to take a look at a few of their new releases and give a little review. I thought “well, they look awesome – I’ll take a look and review them, sure, but I doubt my big kids will be into these now.”
Or so I thought.
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As usually happens whenever I sit down and look comfortable – my kids came running to see what I was up to the moment I sat down with my little pile of books from Rain Coast. When I said I was going to be reading these so that I could share about them with my readers on my blog – they both looked pretty ambivalent about it all but stayed close. As I got part way through the first one, my oldest was looking at me and said, “Well – are you going to read them to us, or are you going to keep them all to yourself?” And so we snuggled in, and read all of them together.
And I learned a little something that day – if a book is TRULY a good one, then it will be good for littles, and big kids, and even us grown ups.
Picture Books Are A Light, Fun Read
Reading a short picture book can be just the kind of light, easy pick-me-up that a day needs. Without a long-term commitment to make, or complicated storylines to keep up with – they are just nice, quick ways to sit and enjoy time together. Snuggling up on the sofa, and reading a book like “A Funny Thing Happened At The Museum”, by Davide Cali and Benjamin Chaud – was a perfect way to kick off our afternoon. It was so light, and funny, and adorably illustrated – and yet still had a really interesting ending that got the three of us talking.
Picture Books Are Great Conversation Starters
The next book in our pile was “The Story Book Knight”, by Helen Docherty and Thomas Docherty – a sweet little story about “Leo, a gentle knight in thought and word and deed. While other knights liked fighting, Leo liked to sit and read…” This book has quickly become one of our favourites to read together – and what a great way to start a Big Juicy Conversation about the power of reading, and books, and even peace!
Moments after I put this one down for the first time, my 8 yr old daughter disappeared and took this book with her! I’ve gone looking for it, in the writing of this post, only to find it in her bed or under her pillow – and once I even overheard her reading this book to her stuffed animals all lined up on her bed.
Picture Books Are Deceptively Rich With Info
While on the surface, some picture books may seem silly and light – in those few lines per page, they can really be so packed full of information. When we finished paging through “Over and Under The Pond”, by Kate Messner (and illustrations by Christopher Silas Neal), my 11 year old asked me to read it a second time! He said “Mom, I think this is going to be a keeper – this will be great to read in the spring when we go to the duck pond!”
Picture Books Are Filled With Beautiful Art
By this point, I had thought “Well, they will surely be losing interest by now”. Shockingly, however, I realized they both were sitting on either side of me, practically climbing on to my lap (and I have a ginormous 11 year old who is precisely 1.25″ taller than I am, so this is not a comfortable way to read books anymore!) – so when I said I had one more they both said “Yes please!”
“The Million Stories of Marco Polo” by Michael J. Rosen and Maria Cristina Pritetti – is probably one of the most unique picture books I’ve read in a while. This one will definitely be a staple in our home, not only because of the creative storytelling – but the kids LOVED the artwork. I think one of the key ingredients in a well made children’s book, is the illustrations. And this one did not disappoint – there were quite a few moments when one or both of my kids would stop me from flipping to the next page because they wanted to look at the illustrations a little more.
Buy This Here: Chapters-Indigo (Canada) Amazon (USA)
Picture Books Are For Kids of All Ages
As the quote goes from C.S. Lewis,
A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.
I firmly believe that if a book doesn’t appeal to all ages, then it’s not much of a book at all. All four of these selections not only captivated my 8 year old and my 11 year old, but myself at my 30-something age! They’re beautifully written and illustrated, made us laugh, and brought us to some amazing conversations.
I truly had forgotten what a treat it was to snuggle together and flip through a little pile of picture books – but it’s something we have decided to add into our days a little bit more. And these days? We don’t keep walking past that children’s section in our library – we always dip in and grab a few to add to our pile.
Do you have a favourite picture book to read with your kids? Share with us here – I’d love to add some to our list the next time we go to the library!