Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Best Illustrated Children’s Books of 2010 & the WCCPBA

Recently the New York Times chose the Best Illustrated Children’s Books of 2010 and there are some wonderful selections on the list that can be enjoyed by all ages!

Picture books are a format rather than a genre. They generally are 32 pages long and what makes them different from books that have some or no illustrations is that in a picture book, text and illustrations unite to create a new whole that is equally dependent on both elements. (Having said that, some are slightly longer or shorter and there are wordless picture books!)

There are picture books for infants and there are others that are more sophisticated or that deal with more mature topics that only an older teen or adult will fully appreciate. You can find just about any genre written in picture book format. It is a rich and innovative area of publishing!

Right now, grades K-3 are taking part in the Washington Children's Choice Picture Book Awards. This is an annual tradition that the students greatly look forward to. We will read all 20 nominated books during library classes, then students will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite. The nominees appeal to a wide range of tastes and ages, and always spark spirited discussions.

What is most fascinating for me is to observe different reactions to the same book across grade levels. For example, so far this week I've read Amy Krouse Rosenthal's Duck! Rabbit! to kindergartners, first graders and third graders. Kindergartners were intrigued but rather literal-minded in their interpretations, first graders thought it was simply hilarious, and third graders delved deeply into the meaning of the story and its implications for conflict resolution and building empathy between people. All this from one small picture book!

The process of participating in the WCCPBA also allows us to talk about how books are chosen to receive awards, who does the selecting for most awards (adults!), and how very difficult it is to choose one "best" book. Why not check out their website and borrow some of the past winners to enjoy with your family?

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