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#PicBookDay: The power of picture books

How one enthusiast's tweet about children's picture books sparked a massive celebration of this form of literature

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The Tiger Who Came to Tea, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Shhh! ­– the list of captivating picture books is truly endless.  

The first experience of reading for many will have been with a picture book, and as one literary enthusiast found yesterday, these wonderful works of art aren’t short of a champion – or 700.  

Type #picbookday into Twitter’s search bar, and you’ll immediately be immersed in a bubble of love for picture books.

Rob Smith, creator of the Literacy Shed, sparked the social media celebration with a single tweet:

It is a #picbookday -help fill twitter with amazing picture books. Here's mine Grandad's Island' - a tearjerker. What is yours? #picbookday

— Rob Smith (@redgierob) April 4, 2017

'I do not like Tuesdays; it is the blandest day of the week! I thought it would be fun if every one shared their favourite picture books along with anecdotes and memories of them then it would show the picture book doubters that picture books do have a place within the English curriculum.

'As well as this it would also allow picture book lovers to share their favourites with each other – it has certainly worked out as an expensive day for some teachers as they rush to buy lots of the recommendations,' said Rob. 

The response he received, was quite simply, incredible. The hashtag was used in 703 posts, and reached over 5 million people.


If I have read this once (with silly voices) I must have read it a thousand times to my boys. #picbookday

— JacMagpie (@lapetitepie) April 5, 2017


I've had a copy of this book since the 90s when @AnaesthetistPR bought it for me as a good luck gift for my first peads rotation #picbookday

— Connie Beauchamp (@CBeauchampNHS) April 5, 2017


You'll go a long way to find a better picturebook for Upper Key Stage 2 than this. Or for an adult frankly. #picbookday @redgierob

— Ed Finch (@MrEFinch) April 4, 2017



A lovely story with a great message! What’s your favourite? #picbookday

— chetaru (@chetaru) April 4, 2017



Understandably, some tweeters couldn’t pick just one:


— Carolaen (@Moonstone1812) April 5, 2017


Too many favourites to choose from but here are four of the best. I may choose another 4 later.#picbookday

— Zoë Paramour (@ZoeParamour) April 5, 2017


On #picbookday, I'm going to put these somewhere high in my top ten:

— Mrs Kay (@Mrs_Kay73) April 4, 2017



Picture books don’t have to stay in early years, and as clearly demonstrated yesterday, they have the power to resonate with people of all ages. 

Simon Smith, headteacher at East Whitby Academy, shared his tips with Tes earlier this year on how the books can boost literacy in your classroom:

1. Pick your books carefully

There are many wonderful books, and CLPE Power of Pictures is a good starting point for finding titles. Or just go on Twitter, where there are loads of people sharing brilliant books. What you are looking for is books that give you the chance to explore; books that don’t give you all the answers.

2. Develop your understanding of how picture books work

Understanding the picture book codes – position, line, perspective and colour – can change understanding and interpretation. The codes give children a framework for interpretation and from that they can understand the craft of picture books. 

3. Don’t be overly prescriptive with interpretation

Let the children explore. Create the time and space to talk about the books.

4. If you can get a visualiser, great 

It makes exploring easier. To be able to share the close-up detail with the whole class allows children to understand the nuance in the art or to really explore what is there. You can really focus in on the detail.

5. Enjoy them

Picture books have a lot to offer adults, too. Embrace them and sharing picture books will be an an absolute joy. 

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