Picture books are a great way to teach complex topics to the children in our lives, and they are valuable far past young childhood. Read on for more about why picture books can be a great medium for learning about complicated social and community issues for all ages.
As parents, we are our children’s first and most important teacher. By having children, we are actively choosing to take on this responsibility.
Even if you’re not a parent, I appreciate the idea that Rachel Cargle promotes that despite consciously choosing not to have her own children, she still believes she has a responsibility to contribute to caring for and raising the children in her “village”. I believe our children can find great value in a variety of teaches beyond parents and formal school educators.
Books are one of the very best ways we can teach the children in our village. As first described by Rudine Sims Bishop, books can be windows to another world, sliding glass doors to let our imaginations step through and experience a new world, and mirrors to see ourselves reflected in new places and spaces.
Often times, when children reach an age where they can read on their own and start to read chapter books, we set aside and even clear out the picture books as if our children have outgrown them. However, I think this is an over-simplified view of what picture books can offer.
Picture Books For All Ages
Picture books help tackle tough issues in a concise way with engagement through words and images. Picture books use more complex vocabulary than many early chapter books.
Picture book authors are forced by limited space to make their messages concise and clear. They must ensure, especially in books that tell specific and important messages, that every word serves a purpose. And because they have rich images, they allow a story to be told through verbal and visual means.
Picture books aren’t just for kids!
Because of their juxtaposed depth and concise precision, picture books can be particularly effective for learning about complex matters like climate change, social justice, and environmental racism (among other topics). To really go deep into learning on any particular topic, we’ll eventually need to read longer texts and examinations of these issues. But picture books are a great source of learning for kids of all ages and even a great introduction for adults.
As your kids get older, don’t stop reading picture books to your kids just because they can read chapter books. Your kids will let you know when some of the simpler books become boring. But the complex and informative picture books that introduce and tackle difficult topics will continue to be engaging for many years beyond the time when they learn to read on their own.
Further, not every book needs to be heavy and educational, but here are some tips for incorporating books on matters like climate action and social justice into your family reading repertoire.
Beyond the book, reading aloud together is a wonderful way to connect, create family memories and inside jokes, and continue to foster a love of reading and learning.
Use Your Local Library
When curating picture books for your kids, be sure to use your local libraries. Picture books can be really expensive. Also, there are so many great picture books about myriad topics, it only makes sense to cycle through them by borrowing and trying out new ones over time. If the library seems overwhelming or you’re not sure where to start, here are a few tips for making the most of your local library and why your local library is such an integral part of your community.
Related Reading: All My Posts About Why We Love Libraries
Better Ways To Buy Books Than Amazon
If you’re planning to buy books to grow your home library or support the author, skip Amazon and use one of these alternative book and audiobook distributors below. They each support local, independent bookstores or use funds to promote global literacy with easy to use platforms. It’s a win-win-win.
- Bookshop (physical books) and Libro (audiobooks) to support indie bookstores
- Better World Books (secondhand books) to support global literacy and reduce waste
Resources To Find Great Picture Books
There are so many resources for finding great picture books that address important social and complex matters. Especially as of late, we’ve seen endless booklists about racial justice, environmental matters and climate action, and more. Below, I’ve compiled a few ways to find your own lists of picture books that are perfect to share with your kids or your village and some of the book lists I’ve shared in the past. I also added a few other places I love finding great book recommendations for my kids.
If you’re looking for books on environmental matters and climate action, I’ve created several lists of eco-focused picture books for Earth Day and every day that you can share with the kids in your life. I add new lists regularly, so be sure to bookmark it in your browser or Save it on Pinterest so you can come back to it whenever you need new books to put on hold at your library.
Following curated book lists is really helpful, but sometimes it’s hard to know where to start when deciding what to read to our kids. Reading something is better than nothing in just about all cases. But if you aren’t sure what to read, take a look at these tips on How To Choose Books To Read With Your Children. I’ve compiled several tips to help you find books on your own and decide what makes the most sense and will have the most impact for your family.
Additionally, sign up for The Conscious Kid Patreon membership. They have many free resources on Instagram, but they share even more robust resources and book lists on their Patreon page. They have a membership for as low as $1/month, though they encourage you to select at least the $5/month membership tier if you can afford it.
There are also so many great book recommendation accounts on Instagram. Here are just a few of my favorites that recommend a lot of wonderful picture books.
P.S. My sister and I curate an Instagram account @chapterbookstagram where we recommend early, middle grade, and YA chapter books for your kids. It’s not about picture books, but I still think it’s awesome, so I had to give it a shout out. 🙂
In the end, don’t write off picture books as being only for young children. The right picture books are great sources of learning. They are deep and complex, and they are perfectly valid tools for sharing new worlds with the children in our lives.
Do you have any favorite picture books that are great for all ages? Or places where you find these books? Share in the comments. The more resources the better!