This is it -- Day 30 of Picture Book Month. Have you had as much fun as we have? It's been wonderful to share some of our favorite books with you, books old and new. Many of these titles are ones we return to again and again -- we hope you've found some books among our picks that will be the same for you and yours.
I hope you've been following along not only with our little project, but also with the great things happening at the Picture Book Month site. So many amazing posts about picture books, how their art and words and their very spirit can change the lives of kids and adults alike. I think author/illustrator Joyce Wan said it best, in her November 29 post on the importance of picture books: "Picture books empower the underprivileged and give hope to the voiceless. They have the power to capture your heart and transform your soul. They are the first interaction we have with books and that initial connection creates a ripple effect that lasts a lifetime and for generations to come."
Today's pick is Cynthia Rylant's In November. This is often read at Thanksgiving, and that fits because of course the Thanksgiving feast is mentioned prominently. But it's also so much about the wrapping up of the world for winter, the way the birds take flight and the animals become lazier, and how the bite to the air becomes sharper. This is a book to read by the firelight, snuggled down with a blanket and the comforts of home to keep you.
This is one that I've been saving all month long, because it seems to sum up not only the spirit of this month, but also because it represents so much of what is best about picture books today. Its storyline is spare and tight, words dropped like jewels into place so that phrase each shines with a unique beauty. Its illustrations, beautifully done by Jill Kastner, are evocative, snapshots of the way the world looks at this time of year, with the light sifting through the clouds and the closeness of dark coming ever near. Of all the books written about fall, this is the one that for me best symbolizes the transition from autumn to winter, and celebrates that time as perfect for all it is.
I hope that through this past 30 days, you've encountered some books that will crack open the whole wide world for your children. When you read picture books to your children, you give them so much: laughter and knowledge, closeness and exploration, silliness and introspectiveness, dreams and honesty. You teach them and you learn from them, watching their experience with the words on the page and the pictures they lose themselves in. I've never read books in the same way as I have now that I read them to Sprout, even when I read them to other children, because I see each title as I se the world - much differently through his eyes.
As for us? We'll still be right here, a stack of books by our side, and many more where these came from.
In November by Cynthia Rylant, published by Harcourt