Let’s Make 2012 the Year of the Picture Book

Josie Leavitt - September 2, 2011

Okay, I love picture books and I want them to be revered, but love is not necessarily enough for country-wide celebration. A year-and-a-half ago, Marie C. McHugh went to a NECBA meeting and had a great idea: The Year of the Picture Book. Why? because picture books seem to be continually under assault by mainstream articles that decry the death of the picture book. Kids don’t need them, they’re going to be replaced by new technology, etc. There is a place for picture books in the lives of all readers and the Year of the Picture Book was a great way to celebrate that.
We all loved the idea. People brainstormed partnership possibilities, we were enthused and then we all went back to our stores, got busy and lost our steam.  Now 2011 is effectively finished in terms of planning a year-long celebration. So, let’s not lose 2012 our year for feting the mighty picture. Here’s the problem-I’m not sure how we do it.
I can see working with publishers to help promote backlist treasures, public relations for the value of the picture and funding in some way that would give a book to every child in the country. I know this might sound crazy, but how satisfying would that be? Bookstores could work together with libraries and schools to promote the value and fun of picture books. So, dear reader, here’s my question: How do you think we could pull The Year of the Picture Book? Share your ideas here and maybe we can make this happen.

24 thoughts on “Let’s Make 2012 the Year of the Picture Book

  1. Lara

    I love this idea! Stores could commit to weekly picture book events
    Week 1 – Classic
    Week 2 – New Frontlist
    Week 3 – Staff Favorite
    Week 4 – Kid Picks (kids and parents vote on a favorite during weeks 1-3)
    We could get 12 publishers/imprints to each sponsor a month and create event kits for each book (with a generic “We love books” one for Week 4) and provide bookmarks and flyers and ballots to vote on the week 4 pick. Someone would have to step up to the plate and create overall branding for the program (let’s get the ABC/ABA involved)
    Stores could sign up by the end of November and we can kick off in January

  2. Bridget Marmion

    It seems crucial to construct this celebration in a way that is not too earnest and allows each fan, each parent, each person to embrace it as a way to tell their own stories… Perhaps something as simple as encouraging posts and videos on the theme of “The picture book you wanted me to read you over and over”. Or “The book I wanted you..”. Others will improve on this, I know.

  3. Karen Lotz

    Josie —
    We love this! Thank you! And count us in — Candlewick is celebrating our 20th anniversary during 2012, and out of passion and gratitude, we too have been planning a year-long picture book campaign! After all, we were founded due to a picture book-loving visionary, Sebastian Walker, and one of his most successfully published picture books of all time — Where’s Waldo?–turns a whopping 25 in September. So stay tuned for a flurry of picture book activities and activism from the Candlewickians, and we’ll stay tuned to discover how we can help in and join up with yours.
    All very best,

  4. Steve Anton

    2012 is also the 50th anniversary of Ezra Jack Keats groundbreaking picture book ‘The Snowy Day’.
    I’m a student studying for an MA in Children’s Book Illustration, and I don’t think the picture book will ‘die’ as put by some people.
    I think this is a great idea.

    1. CC

      What on earth are you planning to do with a Masters Degree in Children’s Book Illustration? You certainly don’t need it to become an Illustrator. The field is continually narrowing and
      almost impossible for all but a very few to earn a living in these days. I speak from experience, mine and enormously talented, professional, prize winning and long published
      Illustrator colleagues.

  5. Jeanette Larson

    Commit to buy picture books as presents for children on every possible occasion. Even older children can enjoy a good picture book. Maybe publishers could work with advertisers to have people reading and holding picture books in ads.

  6. Bonnie Chapman

    The school district where I teach has a “Picture Book of the Year” readers’ choice award. 10 titles selected by a committee of teacher-librarians are purchased for each elementary school. The books are shared with students in a variety of ways and then they vote for their favourite. Last year over 20,000 votes were cast. The winner was Lousy Rotten Stinkin Grapes by Palatini.
    The hardest part is choosing 10 titles!

  7. Anne Moore

    I’ve always thought it would be splendid collaboration if a restaurant space adopted a children’s book theme for a season & decorated the interior like the world in the picture book & created menu items based upon the characters or the action in the plot. I think the crossover appeal would be tremendous… whether it be an Alice in Wonderland fantasy world or a Harold & the Purple Crayon world … The possibilities are endless! I can imagine Frog Belly Ratbone green smoothies & an Interrupting Chicken Late Night Diner : )

    1. Mary

      The publishers would probably muscle in on some royalties unfortunately. However it would be awesome! Imagine if MacDonalds did something like this.

  8. Joni

    I would participate in a program like this. I really like the idea of finding a way to get a picture book in the hands of every child! We are in an area surrounded by families who are struggling financially and literacy is an ongoing issue. I try to keep some affordable picture books on hand or some used books for those kids I know really want to read but for whom the cost of a new picture book is often just not in the family budget. There are times I wish I was a librarian instead of a book seller!!!
    I would be interested in hearing ideas for collaborating with libraries and schools. I would love to see this work.

  9. Mary Nida Smith

    A facebook for picture books only to spread the word. Talk about them and most of all buy them. I love picture book placed on stickers, posters and t-shirts. Have a month to display and talk about picture books at our local libraries.

  10. Lori Eaton

    I love your enthusiasm! How about…since there are so many children in the 4th, 5th, and 6th grades who still struggle with reading, how about if those children partner up with the children in the younger grades as Picture Book Partners. It’s a win-win situation. The older children get the practice of reading while being in the spotlight as teacher, and the younger children benefit from being read to. Not only will reading be promoted, new friendships will be as well!

  11. Jodyth

    Start a YouTube movement where people can post love letters to their favorite picture books, interpret them as book trailers, show their kids reading them, etc. A picture paints a thousand words so moving pictures should cover a few million.

  12. Bridget Heos

    Thanks for the mention, David!
    My favorite thing that’s happened with Save Everything! (and the Picture Book) so far is a 4th grade teacher told me she was revamping her lesson plans this year to include more picture books. Yay!
    Also, I’ve loved hearing from people about what picture books have meant to them as kids and as adults.
    I’d love to be involved with the Year of the Picture Book next year! Authors, illustrators, publishers, and others have been so willing to spread the love for picture books. Expect lots of support next year!

  13. Hajnalka molloy

    My students understand that picture books are not just “little kids” books but are books where the art work helps to tell the story and that some picture books are not suitable for young children. Use the amazing art work and opportunities to “copy”/ learn from the art work/ styles. Get artist/illustrators on board. Does it have to be an official “government” recognized “year of… ” or simply we as a tl community get on board and do it anyway! We can make it happen.

  14. Evelyn Christensen

    I wish we could get the Post Office to publish another set of stamps featuring favorite characters from picture books. (I bought oodles of the first set. Have just a few left, so I use them for only special occasions now.) But that’s a way to focus people’s attention on picture books.
    Lori, you idea is a good one. I did that for half an hour each week when I taught kindergarten–had fifth graders paired up with my students so that each one had a reading buddy. It was great for both sets of kids.

  15. Brook

    As I read through these ideas I am struck that most of them take a scattered – tell everyone the value of picture books, or the professional – work with publishers/larger organizations to promote picture books, approaches, and all the ideas are good, but the people who I think we also need to educate are secondary and post secondary teachers.
    Perhaps another option might be to put together a “Raise Student Achievement in XX Math or Social Studies or Science XX: Breakout session at professional conferences. Show the secondary (grades 6 through 12 and beyond) what is out there and give them concrete ideas of how to use picture books to introduce, illustrate and enrich their discipline. I came from the secondary level and for many years, never considered picture books. They were not even on my radar.

  16. Sheryl McFarlane

    What a wonderful idea. Next year have a picture book that will have been in print continuously for the last 20 years. I plan to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Jessie’s Island anyways, but now I think I’ll make a point of celebrating the “bigger picture,” a celebration of picture books!

  17. Margriet

    Yes, because EVERYONE needs picture books.
    Babies need to read board books every day (The Little Blue Truck)
    Toddlers need to look at and chew on board books every day (Arctic Land)
    New readers need picture books (Gifts, Jeremiah Learns to Read, Waiting for the Whales)
    Middle school students in social studies need picture books (The Great Kapok Tree, The Window)
    Language Arts students in high school need picture books (The Sign of the Seahorse, The Worst band in the Universe)
    Parents need picture books (Too Many Books, Love You Forever),
    Old people need picture books (Gordon Wilfred McDonald Partridge)
    and so on and so on… We ALL need picture books to learn about the world and to share stories, to laugh and to cry together. So bring it on … The Year of the Picture Book!


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