Tuesday, 2 September 2014

reading: why i prefer picture books

i'll be honest, i've never been much of a reader, but that all changed when i delved into the world of picture books. i spent years of my life frustrated at 'elitist' tumblr members who slammed non readers daily for their ignorance, stupidity, or whatever else they thought of them, but even when i felt forced into picking up novels, i could never properly immerse myself in them or read them for the sake of sheer joy and pleasure, but rather for the fact that i thought there was some definite reason that i should be reading them.

this year i've read three and a half novels, but i've read countless books. the last novel i read, which i have yet to finish reading, i've been reading since may which is pathetic, but at the same time i no longer feel bad about not having read it; if it's not gripping or entertaining enough to have me glued to it, desperate to turn the pages, why should i waste time forcing myself to commit time to something that, really, isn't providing me with any positive feeling?

i won't lie, i do think time plays a big part in why i don't read many novels (because i'd rather spend a couple of hours of my day drawing or trawling twitter,) but that's where picture books have provided me with extremely positive, time efficient, beneficial reading experiences. a typical picture book is 32 pages long, around 1,000 words, may take 10 minutes to read in the first sitting, and generally tells a well rounded tale with a clear beginning, middle and end, introduces you to various characters, provides you with a few giggles, and leaves you humbled at the end of it – how fantastic an author/illustrator must be to pack in so much information in such a short space of time!

i used to feel self conscious perusing the children's book section of bookshops, awkwardly worming between parents and children to get my hands on a copy of whatever book i desired at the time, but not so much anymore now i understand the picture book format. i think there's a big misconception amongst non picture book readers that picture books are overly silly, pointless and terribly simplistic, but some of the most complex, profound, thought provoking books i've read over the last year have been picture books, and i'm really no longer ashamed to admit it – if an author/illustrator can get across a seriously adult message whilst delivering it through silly characters and humour, more power to them. i think people assume that picture books can't be terribly important or educational – particularly for adults – because they're not hundreds of pages long, and it's a shame. picture books have truly helped to mould me into the person i am now over the course of the last year. 

the pictures slicing up this somewhat wordy post are from my most recently purchased picture book, another mind-bogglingly beautiful offering from the one and only sara fanelli. i read this in the airport on my way home from germany after having my flight delayed by an hour, and i must've looked so ridiculously involved in my book because i could feel myself smiling and my face lighting up with each page i turned. of course, sara's work is jaw droppingly beautiful, but she just has such a delicate way with words and ideas and conveying messages that really makes you consider yourself, the world, and everything else in between. the juxtaposition of silly little phrases such as "dogs smile with their tails" and more serious, thoughtful paragraphs like the one pictured above make for an extremely profound reading experience, and i can hand on heart say that i've finished each and every fanelli book that i've read in complete awe of her absolutely divine way of working with both words and images; if there are gods, sara fanelli is most definitely one of them. 

my dissertation writing will be starting properly within the next couple of weeks, and my current working title is "are picture books really for children?" and reading this book has really help to reignite my passion for picture books and how fantastically complex the messages that sit within the beautifully illustrated covers so often are. i'm not writing out reading novels altogether, but give me a picture book over a novel any day. 


  1. I've never actually considered picking up a picture book! But if any of them continue like the one you sent me or another one I won in a giveaway I really should pick them up! Good luck with your dissertation too!
    Lauren // OhHay Blogs!

    1. thanks lauren! oh i'd definitely recommend picking one up, another that i love that's easily available in waterstone's is 'the journey home' by frann preston-gannon – have fun!