Search This Blog

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Types of Picture Books

First things first. I am no academic on picture books. But my love for them has made me explore this genre of children’s books to dizzying depths, and what I hope to share with you are learnings I’ve gathered over the years…The age indications are just that – indications. There are children who take to reading chapter books at 5; there are many 7 year olds who are reasonably happy with the early reader in hand.  

Baby Books (0-1 year):
These are for infants, with very few words, at times wordless, and in a format that is easy for their little fingers to hold on to and their rascal gnawing teeth to bite into! Bath books, gum soothers and rattles with little books hanging at the end, or books that give out music when pressed are good examples.    

The Concept Books (0-3 years, Toddlers):
These could be board books or regular books. Typically, meant to introduce a particular concept to a child with examples from her immediate familiar surroundings. Titles like ‘I Like Shapes’, ‘Colours’, or ‘In The Playground’, In The Market’, and so on. The number of words on each page is minimal, at times just about one or two, and the subject matter is often picked up from the child’s immediate (familiar) surroundings. Often these are board books that kids can chew on, stand on, go wild dancing on, throw around the house, and for that occasional missing-diaper situation, also pee on. The best friends a toddler can have. I have tried to not get into this zone, unless there’s an exceptional concept book out there on the shelves. 

The Classic Picture Book (3-7 years):
The raison d’etre of this website and my all-consuming passion! These are, in my view, THE most important set of books in a child’s life because these are what lay the foundations for a child’s lifelong affair with books.

A quintessential picture book will be crafted for the under 7s, will come in a 32 page format (multiples of 8, so we also have them as 24 pagers or 40 pagers), carry well under 1000 words (500-600 is ideal), and no marks for guessing this right – have the pictures do most of the talking. These books are meant to be read aloud, so extra care goes into putting just the right (and enough) words on each page. Regardless of whether the story is set to a rhyme or in prose, the sentences MUST have a rhythm to them.

Unfortunately, in India, this happened to be one of the most ignored genre in the publishing industry, until less than a decade ago. It was only in the late 90s, with independent houses like Katha, Tulika and Tara introducing picture books to the Indian reader, rooting the stories within local settings. We are still taking our baby steps, for as a collective industry, we are yet to imbibe the essence of a classic picture book.
p.s – I have used the term picture book throughout this website to mean the classic picture book. I have deliberately kept the other kinds outside the purview of this book site. Except the few exceptional illustrated story books (see below) that are impossible to resist and it’ll be a shame if this website misses to feature them.

Illustrated Story Books (5-7 years):
Books where illustrations are used more for ornamentation than for telling the story. In other words, the story can well be read and understood even in the absence of the related illustrations. The bulk of children’s books in our country falls into this category – typically, retellings of mythological tales, folk tales, fairy tales and so on. Even books that set out to be picture books often end up as illustrated story books because of unimaginative illustrations and the heavy use of text.  

Informational Picture Books (4-7 years)
These are non-fictional books (with varying degree of complexity) with visually-aided information on subjects of a child’s interest – like On The Farm / In The Jungle/ On The Road, and so on. 

Early Readers (5-6years)
Books meant for encouraging independent reading by children. The words remain few (as in picture books), but may tend to be easier (also written for a phonological learning) for them to read on their own. These short-story books are shaped more like a chapter book than a picture book.   

Early Chapter Books (6+)
Longer than the early readers, these make for the ideal transition tools between early readers and the longer, meatier chapter books, and the story has natural breaks in the form of chapters. These allow the child to bask in the very important feeling of growing up, to be seen with books that look pretty much like the novels their older siblings never tire of showing off!

Back to Snuggle With Picture Books

No comments:

Post a Comment