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  • Writer's pictureMaryna

To Buy a Picture Book or Not?


First of all, before I ever buy a book, I like to check it out from my library and do a test run. I read it to my three-year-old and see how he reacts. The question I always ask myself is... Did Calvin like it?

I know he likes a book when he asks to read it again and again. When he's pointing at the pictures. When he's asking questions about the pictures and he's fully engaged.

Pictures are HUGE. If the illustrations aren't capturing his attention, then the book is a no-go. Calvin is three and can't read yet. Besides listening to the story, the only thing he can do is stare at and engage with the pictures. That's why illustrations are so important to me.

When I buy a picture book, I want to invest in something beautiful. Something that says, "I am worth $18." In Josh Funk’s book, It’s Not Hansel and Gretel illustrated by Edwardian Taylor, the pictures are bright and cheerful, and every page has fairytale creatures hidden amongst each main picture. It’s a feast for a kid’s eyes. Literally! The end pages even have an assortment of sweets scattered all over the pages.

Next, I ask myself, what message is this book trying to send to Calvin? Do I agree with it? Is it something that aligns with my values? How does this book make me feel? Is that a feeling I want Calvin to experience, too? Is the topic of interest to him? If yes, then these are all reasons to buy the book.

For example, in I’m Sorry! written by Barry Timms and illustrated by Sean Julian, the book’s message is all about how to sincerely apologize to someone. This is a very important skill that I want Calvin to learn, and I want to read this to him over and over again to remind him how important it is to be truly sorry. A book like this is worth buying because I’m not only investing in Calvin’s literary education, but I’m investing in his emotional intelligence. As a Christian, it also introduces him to the idea of repentance and reconciliation.

Another book we own is Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site written by Sherri Duskey Rinker and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld. This book is a bedtime favorite for Calvin because he LOVES construction trucks. Every time he looks at the pictures, he gets excited and wants to learn everything there is to know about cement mixers, bulldozers, cranes, and diggers. This book helps Calvin feel the joy and love of reading because it’s a topic he’s extremely interested in. Not only that, it teaches him that sleep is important, and it influences him to have positive associations with sleep at night. If his favorite construction trucks are going to bed, then surely, he should go to bed, too!

So, I’ve found that the best way to decide if you should buy a picture book or not is to test it out on your kids first. Get it from your library, read it to them, and see how they react. If they ask to read it again and again, if they can't stop looking at the pictures, if they love the topic, if the book gives you all the feels, then buy it!

The main thing is... does your child love it? Because, after all, reading is about love. And our job as parents and educators is to foster a love of reading in our children.

How do YOU decide which picture books to buy for your family? Comment down below.

To see four picture books that I own and my son loves, check out my "Fun Stuff" tab. And take my quiz to see which picture book suits you the best!

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