Books have shared one universal purpose in common - "to engage readers into reading. But is it the same for children's books? As we all know, children's books have a LOT of illustrations and pictures than any other books you might stumble upon. So, what is the difference?
From the name itself, "Children's Books", you know exactly whom these books are made for... children. Children are at an incredibly young age and will only lay their attention on something that is catching their eye or if something interesting has caught their field of vision. Children's minds only focus on all things colorful, lively, and interactive, and that's how children's book illustrators are trying to grasp every time they illustrate and make pictures for children's books. Children are young readers, and to engage them in reading is also to get their attention and focus. Thus, they find illustrations quite fascinating and interesting to read. If you'll take a look at Bibles for young children, they contain more illustrations than words, and the same goes for other books designed for the same audience. Children's books should contain lots of illustrations as they are still learning to read and will only be able to learn to read if they would be showed books with illustrations. Illustrations, however, serve to elaborate and clarify the meaning of the text in the book and are mostly highlighting an important point or scene to help the child understand what he/she is reading.
What makes children's books different from other books is not just the illustrations, but also the purpose of the illustrations. The illustrations aim to convey important details to young children to help them understand and learn the message of the book and as well as the world around them. Illustrations help them identify the message of the text and the things that do happen to them in real life. It also makes a simple story turn into a fascinating one. Children will be able to remember the context of the story more if a book has illustrations in it, and will be able to re-tell a story by remembering what illustrations he/she saw in that book. Illustrations play a big role to young learners such as children as they learn to understand concepts and topics through lively and colorful pictures, they will relate more to the story indicated, and they also will learn how to read step-by-step. Stories are indeed a great material to teach and educate children about values and other things, and illustrations serve as the material to help them understand what the story is all about. Children's books and illustrations aim to teach young children about certain things such as love, friendship, manners, values, and such. Books with illustrations are one of a child's first mediums in learning and also helps shape and mold their personalities and beliefs.
Children's books with illustrations benefit young learners as well. Not just helping them learn how to read, but also helping them build language skills and managing focus. Their ability to adapt a topic into their minds and interpret it themselves is also one of the many benefits of illustrations in children's books. They will be able to figure out the idea implemented in the book due to the illustrations and help themselves get the point of the story. With effective illustrations, children will be able to tell the story to others with what they've perceived from the illustrations.
There are many examples of authors using illustrations to mainly deliver a message through their art, and one of them is Eric Carle. His art style is collage which is the use of hand-painted papers that were cut and then layered to form an illustration. Aside from that, Carle's illustrations have helped children understand the concepts of hope, happiness, perseverance, change, and being observant, and much more. He mostly illustrated animals in his stories and used their natural abilities to teach lessons to young children. One example of his works is "The Very Hungry Caterpillar". He used a caterpillar as a symbol of someone who is striving to survive and is gradually losing hope. He explained the importance of hope and patience by stating that a caterpillar had strived hard and waited patiently for itself to finally become a butterfly. However, it had another meaning and it is the concept of addiction. It is said that it talks about addiction in humans and how it could damage ourselves if we keep doing something beyond measure and in a repetitive manner. It teaches children the importance of self-control. No matter what meaning is understood by the teachers and parents in telling the story to their children, there is still a lesson that is ready to be taught and is easy for young children to understand through the colorful illustrations that Carle has used to portray the message of the story.
Another known children's book illustrator is Dr. Seuss. He is known and loved around the world by many children due to his bizarre illustrations and stories which are actually "out-of-the-box" that children surprisingly love. He mostly uses surrealism in his illustrations as he mostly creates characters with weird appearances and the settings were in also a weird place that he created. One of his famous works is the book "Green Eggs and Ham", which is about "trying things first before making up your mind". The main character in the story which is the Grinch repeatedly refuses Sam-I-Am's request of making him try his green eggs and ham. Sam-I-Am goes to great lengths just to convince the Grinch into eating his oddly ridiculous delicacy. When the Grinch is convinced enough, he finally tried to take a bite of the green eggs and ham and realized that he liked it. In the end, the Grinch continued eating the green eggs and ham and became friends with Sam-I-Am. The message of the story can also be associated with judging someone's preference without even checking it out for themselves. This will teach children to not be too hostile to other people and instead be interested in becoming friends with everyone regardless of their likes, preferences, and even physical appearance. This teaches children to be friendly to others no matter what.
The illustrators mentioned above are perfect examples of those who use their art to convey a message and teach a lesson to young children. Their writing style is both focused on rhyming words to enhance children's reading skills and engage them more into reading as rhyming catches their attention and makes initiates them into reading the passage more. Indeed, children's books are different from the others. It teaches young learners what they need to know about life, just by looking at an illustration and interpreting it with their understanding.
Author: Blaine Kaye Morales