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Pretty Pictures, Wonderful Words: The Picture Book Genre Opened Up

Just the very mention of the picture book “genre” should make readers everywhere smile. Whether it makes them think about books they used to read as kids… or books they’re currently reading to their children or grandchildren… there’s just so much to be happy about.

The picture book genre is wonderfully diverse, covering such subjects as almost anything children – or adults – can imagine. There’s Uni the Unicorn, for example, the story of a unicorn who believes in little girls.

How cute is that!

Or how about Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. That one's about – wait for it – a boy named Alexander and his terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

Uni the Unicorn is maybe 150 words and designed for three-year-olds to snuggle up with on mommies’ laps. Whereas Alexander can easily be enjoyed by eight-year-olds. It probably has a decent four hundred to five hundred words to it, if I had to guess.

Though don’t quote me on it.

What you can quote me on, however, is this: The picture book genre is meant to be about wonderful things for a wonderful time of life. That's what our Definition describes below.

Picture Book

After tiny tots are officially out of the terrible twos, a time when they might rip a book’s page in a temper tantrum – or just out of sheer joy, curiosity or cluelessness – they’re officially in the picture book stage.

Picture books are stories meant to engage children aged 3-8. They involve characters, plots, settings and possibly dialogue that are incorporated into each page right alongside vivid pictures, illustrations or other types of graphic appeal. And, when done right, they’ll stay with a child long after they’re grown up.

Another decent definition of the picture book genre can be found on Wikipedia. It says that, “A picture book combines visual and verbal narratives in a book format most often aimed at young children.”

Yet that’s not to say that not-so-young children can’t enjoy them. Because that Uni the Unicorn book? I bought that for my first niece before she was even born. Because I wanted it.

And after browsing Amazon for examples to use in this post, I might be about to spend $18 on a picture book I loved as a little kid. It maybe for my niece.


We’ll see.

The book is The Indoor Noisy Book by Margaret Wise Brown and Leonard Weisgard, which automatically takes me to a whole shelf-full of other amazing picture books. I’d sit down and read them all by myself in a heartbeat. Stories like:

  • The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

  • Christina Katerina & the Box by Patricia Lee Gauch

  • A Rose for Pinkerton by Steven Kellogg

  • Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans

  • Rachel’s Rainbow by Sharon Morphew

  • Are You My Mother by P.D. Eastman

  • The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister

Or how about anything by Dr. Seuss? Have you tried reading Fox in Socks recently? I dare you not to throw your head back laughing as you mess up line after line… or not to smirk obnoxiously as you don’t mess up line after line.

In which case, stop bragging. You’re not that cool.

Okay, yes, you are. But stop smirking anyway. You’re messing up the point.

The point is that the picture book genre, when done right, inspires amazing memories.

So how about it… Are you up to that challenge?

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