Discovering Picture Books Part One – The Visual Narrative is Dominant

Picture books are some of the most wonderful literary creations there are, for through these books societies and individuals communicate their hearts and values through both textual and visual narrative.

Although the illustrations within picture books are tied to the text of the picture books they have a major impact on the meaning of the book and its story flow. Just as a films director can take any script and make it into anything they wish, so to can the illustrator alter the narrative of a book to make it fit their own desires.

Within our culture visual narrative is very powerful, if you want an example of how strong all you have to do is type the word blue using the color red, then yellow using the color green. Now ask people to read this. Although everyone you ask will likely know how to read, statistically most of them should say the color they see rather then the word. Good illustrations then not only add to a story but can take control of the narrative of that story. This is why the most important award for picture books, the Caldecott Medal is reserved for illustrators and not writers.

Further because most picture books are intended¬† Steigercentrum rolsteiger platform¬† for young children the visuals become all the more important, for the child will often interpret the pictures ignoring their knowledge of reading. It is false then to presume that the pictures within picture books help children read. Indeed for the reasons just mentioned they can hinder a child’s ability to read.

When looking for a picture book it is important then to look at the illustrations and see what message they are delivering. Do they stereotype or make anyone appear in a negative way?

Many older picture books such as Steig’s “Sylvester and the Magic Pebble” show very specific gender roles, strengths and weaknesses, not through the text but through the illustrations. Though this is still a wonderful and highly recommended book it is important to be aware of these illustrations when reading to a child so that the reader be they a parent, aunt, uncle, or teach can verbally discuss the pictures, perhaps altering their meaning where possible.

Ultimately what is important to remember with picture books, is that because they are most often read to small children the person who has the most control over them are the adults, and older siblings who choose to read them. Further such people have the ability to choose to alter the initial meaning of illustrations by explaining the meaning they want the illustrations to have. People are not innately born with the ability to understand art, it is a learned ability. It is up to the reader then how they will help small children understand the most complex elements of the visual narrative.

Ty Hulse has degree’s in art and psychology with both with a children’s and a cross-cultural focus. He is currently working to create the site for, a site for the review of picture books



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