The month of May is National Share a Story month. For 2017 the theme is ‘Picture a Story’, encouraging children to look at illustrations and pictures in books. This is part of the Federation of Children’s Book Groups (FCBG) aim of bringing children and stories together.
It reminded me of a visit that I had to an art gallery with Early Arts many years ago. We were asked to look at the pictures hanging on the wall, and then to look at them through a kitchen roll tube. It was amazing how the pictures looked different when you viewed them in this way – picking out the details – even if the detail was a patch of colour or a seemingly insignificant piece of background, it suddenly came alive.
Of course, this is a technique that great authors have been using for many years, from the Ahlberg’s ‘Peepo!’ book to Nick Sharratt’s ‘Shark in the Park’. Another Ahlberg book where the illustrations are as much of the story as the text is ‘Each Peach Pear Plum’ (and I used to know this off by heart when my children were small!). These delightful illustrations encourage both careful observation and also an understanding of the nursery rhymes and stories, making it a great book to start discussions about different stories.
One of my absolute all time favourite writer/illustrators – and I have to confess I have many favourites – is Helen Cooper. You can find her author page here. From ‘The Boy Who Wouldn’t Go to Bed’, where the little boy’s bedroom is reimagined, to the humour and mischief of the ‘Pumpkin Soup’ stories. In every book, there are tiny details to be discovered, little pieces of visual humour and a glorious choice of colours to match the mood.
In addition, Helen Cooper was good enough to send a letter in reply to my son, who wrote to her one summer, saying how Pumpkin Soup was his favourite book. She even included some little illustrations. That’s true dedication!
I would be really interested to hear about your favourite illustrated children’s book and why those illustrations are so important to you and the children.
Meanwhile, I hope you have a bright and colourful month of May.
Find out more about the Federation of Children’s Book Groups here and a list of great activities you can do with the children.
Ordance Survey want to hear about your adventures outside here
Information about sharing stories with babies here and activities with babies and activities around the country.
Find out about Early Arts here.
The Ahlberg’s author page is here.
Nick Sharratt’s author page is here.