Reading the Art in Picture Books

A picture book is more than just the story. Learn how text and illustrations work together to enhance readers' appreciation of this format. This 4-week online course will prepare students to articulate why they like picture books by describing its artistic elements, media, style, and design. 

Students will develop visual literacy skills and learn how to examine and evaluate picture books for both text and illustrations. This course would be good preparation for reviewing picture books or serving on book award committees, as well as for sharing picture books with children in a more expansive way.

Learning Objectives
Participants will

  • Articulate how artistic elements within illustrations convey meaning.
  • Identify the style and media of picture books.
  • Examine peritext and design elements and describe how they contribute to the aesthetic appreciation of picture books.
  • Develop strategies for reading picture books for evaluation purposes and sharing with children.

ALSC Core Competencies

  • Models and encourages use of culturally and ability diverse materials and services through bibliographies, booktalks, displays, electronic documents, social media and other tools. (2.8)
  • Designs programs that foster a variety of literacies and learning methods including but not limited to pre-literacy, early literacy, family literacy, media literacy, technology literacy, computational thinking, STEM, and maker-centered learning (3.6)
  • Advocates for and purchases materials by and about underrepresented communities, addressing the need for more representation from marginalized groups (5.3)
  • Understands and applies criteria for evaluating the content, artistic merit, and cultural authenticity of children's materials and all genres and formats (4.5)
  • Advocates on behalf of children and their families for the highest-quality library service. (5.3)

Heidi Hammond was a former public school librarian and associate professor in the Master of Library and Information Science Program at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minnesota. She served on the 2011 Randolph Caldecott Award Committee and since then has made numerous presentations about visual literacy in picture books. She co-authored Reading the Art in Caldecott Award Books: A Guide to the Illustrations (Rowman & Littlefield, 2014) with Gail Nordstrom. She also cotaught a graduate level picture book course with Gail for St. Catherine University.

Gail Nordstrom is the Public Library Consultant for Viking Library System in rural western Minnesota. Passionate about picture books, she served on the 2011 Randolph Caldecott Award Committee and speaks to librarians and educators about book illustration. With Heidi Hammond, she coauthored Reading the Art in Caldecott Award Books: A Guide to the Illustrations (Rowman & Littlefield, 2014) and co-taught a graduate level picture book course for the MLIS program of St. Catherine University.