Kids Books: Casting Pearl Before Swine

We want our kids to read a lot, and as such, I'm exposed to a lot of kids books.

And there sure is a lot of garbage out there. I guess it's tempting to jump into the game of making kids books since children have such low standards. Draw a rainbow on a cardboard box and they're happy! Even Keith Richards is trying his luck.

But then, there are some books that are flat-out amazing. I'll start right off with one of my favorites: Come Back Soon by Daniel Schallau. The cover art doesn't even do it justice - every page is full of meticulously drawn images that are so detailed that you need a magnifying glass to appreciate every element.

Dr. Seuss, of course, is the master of words, and to this day seems to be the only author who knows what a verse meter is. His drawings, while not of the highest quality, are extremely creative.

On the other end of the spectrum, there is stuff by Todd Parr, like this one. Sure, he probably had lots of discussions with his editor about how to design his books to stimulate little kids with vibrant colors and simple phrases, but there's something about a book with drawings that look cruder than what the target audience could have done.

You're probably going to point out that I'm comparing apples to oranges - these books are meant for different age groups. That doesn't mean much though. For one, I read books to my kids that are well outside the target age range on both sides - because even if they don't comprehend the content, children still benefit from being read to.

More importantly though, it's very much possible to create books that are meant to reach little kids but are still intelligent and elaborate.

I can't waste this perfect opportunity to plug the work of my very own sister: Stuttgart wimmelt, devoid of any words, but accessible to both adults and kids of all ages. Adults will groove on the intricate drawings, while little ones get to discover countless little characters, situations, and other elements on each page.

There are some amazing books without words, like David Wiesner's Flotsam, a book with beautiful drawings (check out the sample images) and an interesting idea that will fly right past most young readers. Same with Istvan Banyai's Zoom. Hence my thought: This is casting pearl before swine! Why create these elaborate, gorgeous stories for an audience that doesn't even understand the significance?

My kids enjoyed all those books. However, they probably also would have enjoyed some primitive cave drawings. More important than that though is that I enjoyed the books. When I pick books as birthday presents for my sister's kids, I choose something she would like, not the kids.

And maybe that's the true purpose of these books: Getting the parents to look forward to reading to their kids. Making sure children get their daily dose of reading in. And I'm all for that.


Anonymous said…
Yes, I like this!

Sometimes I find, with my 26mth old, that I want to finish reading a kid's book even as he's moved on to something else! Good material to keep parents interested.

I started collecting the Children's Spirit Animal Book Series for my little dude when he was just 10mths old...of course, they have no pictures (besides the cover) and are not, necessarily, for toddlers...but I started reading these to him as he took his naps. He loved it, hearing my voice, and he would look a the cover and 'growl' like the tiger! :)

I, also, enjoy backing campaigns on Kickstarter that have items for my kiddo. I backed the children's book Oskar & Klaus : The Search for Bigfoot. It is such a lovely book!

Enjoy your reading!
Michael Krehan said…
You should promote Kickstarter campaigns on social media if you think some of your friends might like them too. You'll end up benefiting from that - you might help making it become reality.

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