Education · NovElla

Picture Books: A Lost Art

Picture books are evolving. New, popular picture books all seem to have only a few words per page, with a cartoon-style drawing. I miss the old picture books—the ones with double page illustrations and a full story that even adults can enjoy. I call these ‘picture books with paragraphs’ because sometimes they actually have a full paragraph, or two, on a page.

Miss Rumphius  The Emperor and the Nightingale

It isn’t that I’m against the new ‘younger’ picture books, because they’re fine, really. In fact, they’re perfect for their target age range. I just wish these could be in addition to the longer picture books, instead of replacing them.

Is anyone else nostalgic for the “old-fashioned” picture books with paragraphs? Children seem to get more and more encouragement to switch to chapter books and other “advanced reading” than ever before. I’m glad I was encouraged to look at picture books throughout my childhood. Picture books shouldn’t just be for beginner readers, not when they can be such beautiful works of art.

Rumpelstiltskin Stellaluna

My personal favorites are the fairytale adaptations, or other folklore, such as the Cinderella-inspired Princess Furball by Charlotte Huck, illustrated by Anita Lobel, or Paul O. Zelinsky’s version of Rumpelstiltskin, complete with oil paintings.

Chris Van Allsburg’s The Polar Express has enough words that a movie was based on it.


…and the smallest one was Madeline.

I hope this type of picture book never goes out of style.





5 thoughts on “Picture Books: A Lost Art

  1. Oh, I was so in love with Madeline because she had red hair like me! Owl Moon was another favorite, and Make Way for Ducklings. Such classics.

    I read adult picture books now, aka comic books and manga. Some of them I read for the beautiful artwork as much as the story.

  2. Great choices! I love the longer picture books, too, and Miss Rumphius is one of my favorites. Another great one that’s very long and wonderful is Farmer Palmer’s Wagon Ride by William Steig.

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