Picture Book Reading as a Formational Discipline

There are few things I love more than books. Pecan pie is close. Old books, new books, children’s books, books with illuminations… I love books.

Children’s books have special powers, though. If you don’t believe me, invite a child to snuggle up next to you and read The Nativity by Julie Vivas.

Reading a picture book is formational. Trust me on this one. When I invite a child into my arms and we share an experience, full of art and word, both of us are changed.

All the parts of the person are in engaged in picture book reading. Loving touch is transformative. Children feel safe and wanted when they are sitting on the lap of an adult they trust. Shared space holds a mystery all it’s own. Our mind is engaged through words and pictures. Both halves of the brain are engaged. Together we share sight and sound, even smell. Today if I read The Bugliest Bug by Carol Diggory Shields and illustrated by Scott Nash, my mind returns to the smell of Cherrios mixed with baby shampoo.

If we will allow ourselves, children can lead us to engage with our emotions. Children’s picture books are often written to engage emotions. Long ago most of us adults have learned to stuff our emotions, to keep them hidden. A healthy life includes emotion and children can help us move toward wholeness.

On that note here are a few suggestions, book suggestions. You’ll have to get your own kid.

Close as Breath by Callie Grant (This is a board book, for preschoolers and it’s terrific. She’s got more board books on her site and they are also very good.) http://www.grahamblanchard.com/product/close-as-a-breath

December by Eve Bunting and illustrated by David Diaz

Butterflies Under Our Hats by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso and illustrated by Joani Keller Rothenberg

Psalm Twenty-Three illustrated by Tim Ladwig

The Lord’s Prayer illustrated by Tim Ladwig

To Every Thing There is a Season by Leo and Diane Dillon

Will’s Mammoth by Rafe Martin and Stephen Gammell

Ferdinand by Munro Leaf and illustrated by Robert Lawson

Chrysamthemum by Kevin Henkes

The Napping House by Audrey and Don Wood

King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub by Audrey and Don Wood

The Blessing of the Beasts by Ethel Pochocki and engravings by Barry Moser

Grandad’s Prayers of the Earth by Douglas Wood illustrated by P.J. Lynch

The Three Questions: based on a story by Leo Tolstoy by Jon J. Muth

Making Heart-Bread by Matthew Linn, Shelia Fabricant Linn, and Dennis Linn illustrated by Francisco Miranda

The Dandelion Seed by Joseph Anthony and illustrated by Cris Arbo

The Circle of Days by Reeve Lindberg and illustrated by Cathie Felstead

Owl Moon by Jane Yolen and illustrated by John Schoenherr


I think this is a good starting place.

Which books would you add to the collection?

Share about a time when reading with children has formed you.



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