by Sara Legatt
The not-so-simple answer: Still no.
There seems to be an assumption that picture books are for infants and toddlers. That once kids hit elementary school, they should grow out of their picture books and into early readers and chapter books.
There’s something magical about picture books, though. Something happens when art and words meet. Something happens when a story captures and puts words to the beautiful and bewildering world a child is beginning to understand. And something even better happens when that story is shared.
Because the books themselves are only part of a story’s magic. Picture books and read-aloud stories include hugs. They include comfortable seats and blankets and hot cocoa, soothing voices and gentle heartbeats and stolen kisses.
Books of all levels allow us to travel the world, but much of that travel is solitary. When we share a story with children, we cuddle them close and jump out into the world of our imagination together. We soar to the moon and we fend off pirates and we make friends with the unlikeliest of creatures, and we do it together.
Is your child too old for picture books? Never.
If you are looking for something new to share with your child, here are some of my first- and third-grader’s recent favorites.
- Anything by Judith Viorst. Though ALEXANDER AND THE TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO GOOD, VERY BAD DAY might be her most well-known picture book, I’LL FIX ANTHONY is my children’s I’ll-let-you-use-any-toy-you-want-if-you’ll-let-me-read-it-in-bed-tonight favorite.
- GOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE DINOSAURS by Mo Willems and THE TRUE STORY OF THE THREE LITTLE PIGS by Jon Scieszka both offer delightful twists on favorite stories from “when we were little” (according to my seven year old).
- Retellings of classic folk tales. My children’s current favorite is WHY MOSQUITOES BUZZ IN PEOPLE’S EARS by Verna Aardema. Older children are fascinated by how the world works, and still full of imagination—a perfect combination for folk tales!
- Non-fiction. If you have not already, this is a wonderful time to introduce non-fiction picture books. Find books on a topic your child loves, or explore a new corner of the world together!
And don’t forget that Knowonder! has picture books available too! CHOMP! CHOMP! CHOMP! will delight kids of all ages as they watch Oliver the Crocodragonosaur eat everything in sight! And RAINDROP, a beautifully illustrated book about Sam the raindrop’s exciting adventure will be available just in time for Christmas (watch for the announcement soon!)
Sara Legatt lives in Minnesota with her husband, three young children, and one clumsy cat that thinks it is a dog. Sara has a B.A. in Elementary Education, has worked for more than a decade as an Early Childhood Educator, and is a Piano Teacher to the best students in the world. Sara currently writes middle grade novels and picture books. She can be found at http://saralegatt.wordpress.com.