I love picture books. I have never been a children’s librarian; I don’t even have children. But the fantastic illustrations, large format, and often positive message that accompanies picture books continually attracts me. I’m pretty certain I am not alone in this. I have particularly been drawn to picture books with serious themes, fascinated and pleased by the way an author can take a difficult concept and find a bridge to a young mind. These books can raise teaching moments and I have often heard that a book is a good entry for discussion.
I have also heard that some books, though ‘picture books’ in appearance, are not actually meant for children. I find this doubtful, but it always prompted the idea: why not an adult book group focused on picture books? Since this thought persists to whisper in my ear, I went to my staff. Sitting both my children’s and adult services librarians down, I broached the subject. I was fully prepared for the long silent pause that indicates they are trying to figure out how to appropriately tell their boss she’s crazy. Much to my surprise, their reaction was instant and positive. One began discussing how to interlibrary loan the planned material and the other rattling off potential titles. In that moment the plan was born.
As good librarians, we also took to the internet searching for others who may have forged the way and could offer insight. Unfortunately, we found very little. But this has not discouraged us.
The format will be simple, three or four books chosen per session, like any other story time. The books available when members arrive so that each can read it in the five or so minutes at start, but a few copies also available between meetings to attract attention and offer option. At meeting time a discussion could ensue, like any other book group. We might discuss the intricacies of the illustration, the effectiveness of the message, and could branch out to a discussion of the underlying topic. Depending on the group, this could be beneficial to those in educational fields and parents as the conversation could also support a discussion of how to talk about an issue with children and others. Themes could be serious, such as social justice, activism, or gender issues. Or less heavy topics, such as wordless picture books, award winners, current holiday.
We have decided to start this plan in December and we already have two patrons who are as excited as we are. If anyone else has done this, we would love to hear your story. Share in the comments.