What are some engaging picture books I should buy for my children?

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Answered by: Sioux, An Expert in the Picture Books Category
Picture books are not just for toddlers or preschoolers anymore. Picture books used to be filled with cute, colorful drawings and the text? Well, the text was usually simple yet uninspired. But not anymore. Engaging picture books should be the favorite bookstore choice when parents or teachers want to get the most bang for their buck...book-wise.

How so? Perhaps you are a teacher and you have students who get uproarious when a peer passes gas. Any incident of flatulence results in laughter and unkind remarks. This is typical, but can disupt a lesson and take it completely off track quickly. Besides, there's the matter of decorum...

Choosing an engaging picture book like one from the "Walter the Farting Dog" series is the perfect read-aloud. The story lines are ones that children connect with. There is a moral in each book. And since it's infused with humor, it makes for a palatable springboard for a more serious discussion about how well mannered people conduct themselves. Weeks or months after reading about "Walter," the story can be referred to as a reminder about polite behavior.

Does your child love to read about animals? Do they enjoy learning about the different parts of the world? Do they get tickled over the way words trip over our tongues? Jane Yolen's "Welcome to the Green House" is a great choice. Full of information about the plants and animals and sounds of the rain forest, this engaging picture book imparts a great deal of information in a small number of pages. After only ten minutes or so, the reader/listener is transported to another continent...and returns more knowledgeable. The use of vivid verbs also makes the book enjoyable. The snakes glide. The sloths move through the trees like a slow-moving ooze. The internal rhyme makes it even more playful, and the gorgeous illustrations make it appealling to the eyes. (Her "Welcome to the Ice House" focuses on the arctic region, and "Welcome to the Sea of Sand" hones in on the desert.)

Engaging picture books can be used to begin a research project or to learn about various scientific or historical concepts. What motivated Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to become the phenomenal orator he became? "Martin's Big Words" will make children want to learn more. What are some of the different species of whales? Cynthia Rylant's "Whales" will whet the reader's appetite for more. What are some of the far-reaching, but little-known ways war impacts our lives? Read "Faithful Elephants." This story chronicles how Tokyo zookeepers starved the elephants to death during the war. The tale reduces readers of all ages--from elementary school to college--to tears.

Picking an engaging picture can expose young readers to rich language. They can teach readers about issues of social consciousness. They can help a child travel to a different country or a different time in history--in less than half an hour. Books with well-crafted text, paired with beautiful illustrations, make the perfect choice for a bedtime story. Or a read-aloud to use in the classroom.

So next time you're in the bookstore to purchase a book for a young person, choose an engaging picture book. You won't regret it...

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