As Deborah Marcero illustrates in what may be the best picture book of all time, In A Jar, to collect things that bring you joy is a lifelong art form. Collecting picture books is one of my greatest joys, and it has given me hope and inspiration during a year of unknowns. I am truly grateful.
When a picture book, with or without words, gives an adult hope, imagine the power it holds over a child? A picture book holds exactly the right amount of stimulation for our children. Through pictures and words, children’s minds can fill in what they want or just accept the book as it is. The uniqueness of each story and the writer’s own imagination presents something that I haven’t been able to find anywhere else in my adult years. A good picture book can give me the chills. My Best Friend, by Julie Fogliano, is an example of one that made me burst with laughter when I read it for the first time. It’s just that BRILLANT. It reminded my adult self of the pure magic that happens within the “instant” friendship between children. It also reminds me of the silly, yet incredibly important things to look for in friendship.
During the pandemic, all we have wanted is to be distracted and reminded of better things and better days. Picture books have done that for my family.
When it seemed that all my 5-year-old and I had to do last summer was scooter around the neighborhood, I found relish in the simplicity of picture books. The stories are so diverse, imaginative, and sincere that they held everything I needed to take me away from the reality of the pandemic. My daughter and I read books in every room in our house, at every time of the day, with every snack and meal you could imagine. (We even read books on the roof with ice cream!) Doing this became a way for us to focus. To focus on the moment, the day and each other. I am sure you can relate that reading something GOOD has the power to slow you down, and when we are slowed down with those who are closest to us, we remember.
If the pandemic hadn’t forced my family to slow down, we would have traveled, been involved in summer shindigs, more family gatherings than needed, and rushed around like “normal” trying to fit everything we wanted to do into those short summer months. Instead, we were gifted with a summer of visualizing what made us happy, a summer of reading the same beautiful story over and over until we could see it with our eyes closed. It was a summer experiencing the beauty and joy of picture books.
Alethea is the proud mama of 6-year-old daughter, Rudy, and owner of 216 picture books! She spends her time at Second Star building community and finding magical toys to bring into the store.