As I write picture book manuscripts I keep in mind that I want to create opportunities for young children and the adults who love them to snuggle up in a comfy chair, at a picnic table, in a car during a long trip, or under a quilt at bedtime to read and experience the story together. I know that publishers design picture books to appeal to both young children and adults.
Some picture books appeal more to children, I think. Those seem to be the ones that they beg us to read aloud again and again until the covers fall off and pages go missing.
However, some of the picture books I cherish, in my opinion, appeal more to the adult than the child. When I find a book like that I simply MUST buy it and read it again and again to my grandchildren, and to myself. Those that I own all seem to be based on a deeply personal experience in the author’s life.
In my opinion they are also books that authors have earned the right to have published. How? I think through long careers of writing successful books, and by having consistent sales figures over those long careers. I also suspect they are the books that come from deep in the authors’ hearts.
I’ve collected a few of those books. We may come back to visit each one later. Meanwhile, I’ll list them below so that you might read them and learn from them. Study them. Dissect them. Figure out why they appeal to readers of all ages.
At this time ON MY SHELF I have the following cherished books.
The Christmas Tree Ship by Carol Crane. Illustrated by Chris Ellison. Published by Sleeping Bear Press in 2011.
Love You Forever by Robert Munsch. Illustrated by Sheila McGraw. Published by Firefly Books in 1986 and again for 59 printings. My copy was published in 1999.
Great Joy by Kate DiCamillo. Illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline. Published by Candlewick Press in 2007.
The Old Woman Who Named Things written by Cynthia Rylant. Illustrated by Kathryn Brown. Published by Voyager Books (Harcourt) in 1996.
Loon Summer written by Barbara Santucci. Illustrated by Andrea Shine. Published by Eerdman’s Books for Young Readers in 2001.
Papa’s Gift written by Kathleen Long Bostrom. Illustrated by Guy Porfirio. Published by ZonderKids in 2007.
Firefly Mountain written by Patricia Thomas. Illustrated by Peter Sylvada. Published by Peachtree Publishers in 2007.
Crow Call written by Lois Lowry. Illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline. Published by Scholastic Press in 2009.
I hope you’ll enjoy them, too. If you read any of them, PLEASE come back and comment here about the reasons you did or didn’t like the book.