Here’s a great essay about the participatory and subversive nature of picture books by Ben Clanton. Ben is an artist and writer whose work is loose, unencumbered and delightful for all ages.
He wrote a great essay about the interactive/participatory nature of picture books. A quality that is easy to miss when being overwhelmed by so much material in the market today. While there are several examples of great interactive style books for kid readers of all ages out there, they are often overshadowed by the cinematic, large in scope ‘story book’ style.
I enjoy some of these ‘story books’ as well. But if you spend 10 minutes reading to a group of kids, like I did just this morning, you realize that the magic of a picture book is mostly found in the notion that the picture book is truly a part of the child’s world, in a way no grown up can experience.
Adults are conditioned to be on the outside looking in. Judging. Categorizing, mostly, the work, not the content, not the emotional experience. Adults approach the book as a known entity: What it looks like and what that means, what it is similar too, who is the author, judging the writing and judging the art against our already established definitions of ‘good and bad’. But for a child, those are mostly unaffecting issues. You may as well be critiquing the issues that separate Einstein’s theory of general relativity from modern particle physics (now that’s a book I would LOVE to draw!). For a child the world of the book envelopes them. They experience it in a first person, active perspective that is deleted from us by age 9 or 10, if not earlier.
Check it out. Great essay if kids books interest you. And here’s a post Ben did about my visit to a school he helps teach at in Salem. I’m drawing a robot…imagine that.