November is Picture Book Month! It is a time to celebrate our love for picture books. Picture books are important. They elicit emotions. They help us embrace our uniqueness. They help us understand each other. Whether silly, serious, or informative, they lead to great discussions. Picture books bring us together!
I love being able to connect with an individual child or an entire group of children over a picture book. Whenever I read a picture book, I like to remind children that in a picture book, the words and the illustrations work together. The illustrations help set the mood and the theme of the story. They help us understand the story better. They are critical to the story.
Honestly, I celebrate picture books all year long, but November is a great time of year to reflect on all the beautiful picture books that were introduced to us this year. It is also the time of year when many of us are thinking about the announcement of the upcoming Caldecott Award. Here are a few gems from 2021 that I think are contenders for the award.
Mel Fell by Corey R. Tabor
An uplifting story about self-confidence and bravery from Geisel Award-winning author-illustrator Corey R. Tabor. The vibrant and heartwarming illustrations were created with pencil, colored pencil, and acrylic paint. The images were assembled digitally.
Zonia’s Rain Forest by Juana Martinez-Neal
Ok, ok… I love everything created by Caldecott Honor and Sibert Medal winner Juana Martinez-Neal. This gorgeous picture book celebrates the wonders of home and how important it is for us to protect it. The brilliant illustrations were created with acrylic paint, colored pencil, pastel, and ink. The printmaking techniques of linocut and woodcut on banana bark paper bring dimension to the artwork.
Watercress by Andrea Want and illustrated by Jason Chin
This autobiographical story shares how a child of immigrants begins to embrace her heritage. The story evokes empathy and understanding. The words and the illustrations are a love song to Chinese culture. Caldecott Honor and Sibert Honor winner Jason Chin’s illustrations were inspired by Chinese painting techniques and created with watercolor.
Cynthia Zervos is the School Librarian at Way Elementary School in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Cynthia has worked in public libraries, school libraries, and academic libraries. As a school librarian, she focuses on building a strong culture of reading in her school community. Previously at ALA, she served as the Chair for the Interdivisional Committee on School and Public Library Collaboration, the Chair for the CS First Crosswalk Task Force, a member of the AASL American University Presses Book Selection Committee, and as a member of the AASL Legacy Committee.
This post addresses the following ALSC Core Competencies: I. Commitment to Client Group, II. Reference and User Services, IV. Collection Knowledge and Management