Monday, June 21, 2010

Picture Books

I don’t write childrens books, but I still found an article by Publishers Weekly on Picture Books interesting.

It seems that at a meeting of the New England Children’s Booksellers Advisory Council, Ken Geist, v-p and editorial director of Orchard Books and Cartwheel Books and author of the picture book The Three Little Fish, asked independent booksellers to get behind picture books.
 “I’m not finishing this year until we move the needle and sell more picture books,” said Geist, who added that he was not speaking on behalf of Scholastic. “I’m here to talk about what we can do collectively to raise the profile of picture books.” 
Geist is trying to start a grassroots movement, asking booksellers to send him suggestions as to how to get kids back in the bookstores. The article lists some of the suggestions he’s gotten.

Like most of us, he’s not real keen on celebrity books.
 Singling out celebrity books like Tori Spelling’s upcoming fall release, Presenting...Tallulah, he added, “My worry is that that book isn’t going to make a lifelong reader.”
 What suggestion would you send him on very young children to read or parents to buy books for them?


  1. The biggest challenge for me as the mother of a new-born (and subsequently, growing) child was finding books I would want to buy.

    Picture books, I found, were not age specific- in the same book/ story, the MC would be doing some things that my kid outgrew a year back (bottle/ breast feeding), and other things that the kid would not be doing for months (potty training). Kids would be taking their dolly to the park (not for sometime), and would be sleeping with a pacifier (left long back).

    And there would be rhymes that did not rhyme, and animals that did not look like animals, and worst of all parts that did not do what they were supposed to do.

    Any wonder that for my second child, I preferred to make picture books myself.

  2. Rayna, from what I know of you, I suspected that would be your solution. And a very good one! Have you thought of trying to get yours published?

  3. Perhaps a reprinting of some classics would jump start the genre again.

  4. I'm not sure celebs even write their own childrens books. I'm going to take on the task later this summer. got some pretty cool ideas IMHO.

    Stehne Tremp

  5. I'd love to see new, good material out there. Most of what I see when I shop is ridiculous or dumbed down (even the kids put it down0.
    Must admit I'm not very trusting of celebrity books.
    Would love to see Rayna publish. Get movin', Stephen!
    Bookstores don't encourage kids to read (big stores) because they provide a play area with toys and tv.

  6. Well, each generation seems to be more and more online. So, though I shudder to say it because it means losing the comfort of sitting with a book in hand, but how about some sort of e-picture books? Maybe something interactive? That's where the market seems to be headed ...

  7. I think Geist needs to contact long-standing independent children's bookstores like the most wonderful Woozles in Halifax, NS!
    I have always found a wealth of wonderful books there for my grandchildren when they were very young. It isn't entirely the books in my opinion though. It is the habit of reading to one's children that needs to be encouraged. There is a great enterprise here in Nova Scotia - each mother that has a baby at the Grace Maternity gets a Read to Me kit with a video, some books and good reasons why parents should read to their kids.

  8. I love to read well written rhyming books to my children, or books that have a nice rhythm - like Wet Dog by Elise Broach. The pictures are fun and the language is vibrant. These are the things that hook children to reading.

    Our local publishers accept very few children's books, and the ones they have published in the past few years are terrible.

  9. I wonder if part of this is a response to the economy. I was MORE willing to buy books when my kids were small because they would read and reread. I bought a number of my childhood favorites plus found some other authors and illustrators I loved (Don and Audrey Wood, for instance) When the economy went south though, I turned more and more to the library. It happened to correspond with the jumpt to chapter books my kids only wanted to read once or twice, so it worked fine, but because of libraries, I was willing to give up a lot of book purchases.

    That all said, part of the problem is ALSO good for people who get in... the really great ones never go out of style--I read Where the Wild Things are to my kids MANY times--so there isn't the same level of replacing with the next new thing that seems to happen with adult books.

  10. I'm sorry, I find celebrity books annoying. If they want to be serious writers they should use a pseudonym or else they should know why people buy the book and I doubt it involves how great it is.

  11. My children always liked the same books over and over again. We read them so often they memorized some of them. They've all grown up to love reading. So we didn't buy a lot of books, we bought a few good ones and visited the library a lot.

  12. If you visit the Prado Museum in Madrid, you can enjoy the Garden of Delights, painted by by Hieronymus Bosch in 1490.

    My kids were very fond of picture books with lots of details, books they could pick up over and over and always find something new, like the picture by Bosch. An example is the "Where's Waldo" series, which I enjoyed very much myself >:)

    Cold As Heaven

  13. I was in the bookstore today and was nearly run over by children...but I wonder if it's always that way. I'll admit to being in a Borders (indie stores aren't close by me) and they had a summer reading club for kids going, as well as a free storytime. And it's hot as Hades here, so the mommies were dragging their little ones to the store for a fun, free activity in the air conditioning.

    Now that's me approaching it from a store standpoint...from a book standpoint? I think the picture books put out these days are *excellent*. Absolutely amazing and much better than what I read when I was a kid. Barring the celebrity books, of course. :)

  14. I agree with L Diane's suggestion, Some classics could be brought back to life.

  15. When the illustrations are great it can make even a really simple book memorable. Like "Pigs Aplenty, Pigs Galore," or Fred Gwynne's "A Moose for dinner."

    My daughter had a Little Golden book "Pokey Little Puppy's Special Day" memorized when she was less than a year, and WO be unto them who tried to skip a page...laughing.. we still sometimes quote the advice in that series of books, and she's in college now.
    Books and the love of reading are awesome things to gift your children with especially early in life.


  16. Joanne, I know there are interactive sites for kids that are based on books.

    Love that idea, Jan!

    Recently, we dropped our storage unit and built a garden house/storage. It was so much fun opening boxes of books from when the kids were little.

    Excellent point, Lauri. Problem is, they get millions because of their name. The publisher would never let them then put a fake name on the book. They want to make their millions back and more.

  17. My daughter like Pokey Little Puppy, too. I think maybe it's in one of the boxes in our storage.

  18. I feel so lucky that my grandson loves books and going to the bookstore. I think this is because his parents love to read and have been reading to him from the moment he was born, if not before. The only way to get kids interested in the bookstore is to campaign to parents about the importance of reading to their children everyday.

  19. Any picture book that combines beautiful art and intriguing words is right up my alley. There are a lot of new ones I adore.

  20. Good point, Jane.

    The artwork is critical, isn't it, Jemi.

  21. I think every generation should be introduced to one of my favorite picture books, "Bunny Blue." I loved it as a child, my kids loved it, and my grandkids have been loving it.

  22. I have gotten a bit fed up with the trend of fantasy for young children. These early years, especially the first five, are the formative years for both mind and body. Why not use this time to teach children morals, making good choices, respect for others, safety, I could go on and on but I think I've made my point. The use of life like characters allows small children to identify more readily. Let's get real!

  23. Good idea Inside the Shrink. Or even to make it a fun experience between parent and child with interesting sounds and clapping (coordination), etc.

  24. I love picture books but I only want to buy really good ones because they are expensive and they are not small books so they take up a decent amount of space. The book has to be special and both parent and child must LOVE it, even the 100th reading of it.

    I do have a bunch of lists of picture books that I love on my blog at

    They also make great gifts (carefully selected) for adults.

    A teacher getting married: Lily's Big Day by Kevin Henkes

    College Graduation: Oh, The Places You'll Go by Dr. Seuss


    Pragmatic Mom
    Type A Parenting for the Modern World
    I blog on children's lit, education and parenting.


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