Thanks to Isabella Rowan for sending this along.
When we adults look at a picture book, sometimes we underrate the importance of the illustrations. My older son is always pointing out little details that I hadn’t noticed: Mom, look how in طريقتي الخاصّة, in the inside flap it shows half of her face without a hijab, and on the outside flap it shows the other half of her face, with hijab.
Wonderful, vivid, lively, welcoming, funny, emotive illustrations are not just window-dressing, but an equal partner in the literacy process.
From “The Power of Visuals: Picture Books as Invitations to Literacy” by Mary Jo Skillings:
Infants as young as two months old respond to the stimulation of picture book illustrations. Children are born into a highly visual world where they are bombarded with the flickering images and blasting sounds of television and other media. But with a picture book, a child is able to hold an image constant to enjoy and revisit time and time again.
When a book is shared with a child by a parent of other caregiver, the child begins to understand concepts about print, how reading books works; reading in English from left to right [we can substitute “reading in Arabic from right to left”], read from top to bottom, what is the concept of word or picture in a story or nursery rhyme. The images evoke emotional reactions as the child begins to identify with the characters in the story. They laugh, show dismay, turn pages to investigate what will happen next in the story, and search for meaning. The child begins to construct meaning from the story without knowing how to decode the text.
Enter the blog Kootoob: illustration and book stuff in Lebanon. The blog, which highlights (among other things), some of the best children’s-book illustrations coming out of Lebanon, is a valuable resource for parents looking for high-quality children’s books with high-quality illustrations.