Picture Book Month is an international literacy initiative that celebrates print picture books during the month of November. Our St. Lawrence County libraries have over 48,000 picture books on the shelves, with over 89,000 more available through interlibrary loan from other libraries in the North Country Library System.
Not surprisingly, our larger libraries have the largest picture book collections: the Massena Public Library has the largest collection in St. Lawrence County with over 7,600 picture books; the Potsdam Public Library is a close second with just under 7,000. The Ogdensburg Public Library and the Canton Free Library have 4,700 picture books on the shelves in their children’s rooms. The Reading Room Association of Gouverneur and the Hepburn Library of Lisbon round out the top six with 3,537 and 3,052 respectively.
Picture books are a valuable resource for young readers. They enrich children’s lives and help prepare them for chapter books and advanced literacy skills. Most picture books contain around 500 words and are geared to children between ages two and seven. Some books contain simple words that encourage early reading skills while other picture books contain more complex words that help expand a child’s vocabulary. The illustrations in picture books can both enhance the story and encourage children’s imaginations.
Illustrated books encourage children to expand the story with new ideas, develop creative problem solving, and answer questions about how characters feel and think. Wordless picture books allow children to create their own narratives and develop their own storytelling skills.
Picture Book month is a great opportunity to introduce children to illustrated books. Every day in November, there will be a new post at http://www.picturebookmonth.com from various well-known authors and illustrators explaining why he/she believes picture books are important.
So far in 2017, our St. Lawrence County libraries have circulated over 105,000 picture books, which is about 12.6 percent of the total cataloged items circulated in the same period of time. Libraries circulating the highest number of picture books are, in order, Potsdam, Canton, Massena, Ogdensburg, Gouverneur, and Lisbon. Narrowly missing the Top 6 by only 450 items is one of our tiniest libraries in the county: the Badenhausen Branch of the Massena Public Library. The library in Brasher Falls owns only 761 picture books but has lent them out 1,221 times so far this year.
Our libraries have amazing collections of picture books that range from the classics to the newest releases. Our picture books include almost any topic imaginable from lighthearted books about animals and tractors to more serious books about complex feelings and life’s challenges. There’s sure to be something for everyone – from newborns to those of us who are chronologically much older, but young at heart. Stop in at your local public library during November, and check out a picture book!