There is a beautiful simplicity to the picture book. Simple words and simple sentences. Sparse text married to art. Picture books are created primarily for the very young as they serve as an introduction to the “firsts” of life. First friendships, first emotions, first adventures, first successes and first separations. But are the emotions of our “firsts” simply packed away once we reach the ripe old age of eight?
Most “firsts” are filled with feelings of anticipation, excitement, fear, confusion, surprise, sadness, and contentment. All feelings that we continue to experience as we move through life. It’s likely that the way you felt on your first day of Kindergarten is not so different from the way you felt on the first day of your new job.
Because of this connection, picture books can appeal to readers of all ages. For example, Dan Santat’s recent picture book, “After the Fall” tackles fear and anxiety in a brilliant way. You don’t have to be a child to relate to the emotional journey of a cracked egg. In some ways, the eventual triumph of the egg may be more emotional for adults as we’ve likely had more relatable experiences.
So, the next time you pass by the children’s section of the bookstore or library, take a minute to browse. You may find a lot more heart and emotion packed into thirty-two pages than you expected.