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Introduction to Picture Books

In this section we want you to consider the importance of picture books and appreciate how they are more than simply books with pictures. The images in these books do more than represent the words, they add to the whole meaning. The combined impact of words and pictures encourages children to be thinkers and imaginers and entices them to read for pleasure.

The illustrations in picture books are more than decoration, they add to the interpretation and can add to the narrative meaning. They can slow down reading so that the reader can think around and beyond the words on the page. This interaction between words and pictures encourages fluency, questioning and comparison and reading for inference. Picture books are complex and can be read over and over again; they need to be given time to reveal their secrets, their insights. They foster close observation and connections with texts.

They come in a range of design styles, using a variety of type face and colour which adds to the reading experience. Through the use of colour, line, tone, light and dark etc. the illustrations add atmosphere and mood; they add details about the character such as their clothes, their expressions, their spatial relationship to other characters. They involve imaginative looking and create a space between pictures and words where imagination can flourish.

Think back to the picture books you enjoyed as a child.

The clip below may give you some reminders of classics such as ‘Where the Wild Things Are’, ‘The Tiger Who Came to Tea’ and a more recent classic ‘The Gruffalo’ as well as introduce you to more recent picture books.