Partner Spotlight

The power of picture books

By Courtney Waring, Director of Education, The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art

Remember your favorite book as a child? It was that one book you never grew tired of, the one you couldn't put down, the one you loved having read to you. For six-year-old me, it was the book Snow, by P.D. Eastman and Roy McKie. With its vibrant illustrations, Snow perfectly expresses that joy and excitement a child feels upon seeing a fresh blanket of snow on the ground, describing the many possibilities that a snowy day can bring. Catching snowflakes on your tongue, making igloos, and waging snowball battles - every time I would read Snow, I felt like I had jumped through its pages, joining new friends for a chilly day of endless fun and play.

carle 1  Exterior of The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, MA

And that is the amazing thing about picture books, isn't it? Each turn of the page presents a new journey, an opportunity for us to let our imagination and creativity soar. It may be exploring underwater sea life, taking a trip to the moon, or following a very hungry caterpillar as he eats his way through some very interesting snack choices…

Here at The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, I have the joy of witnessing how our collections, exhibitions, and programs are a source of enjoyment and inspiration for our young visitors. Our mission: to inspire a love of art and reading in children through picture books. We aim to instill in visitors the confidence to appreciate and enjoy art of every kind, to foster connections between visual and verbal literacy, and provide opportunities for guests to explore their own creativity.  Through studio art activities, gallery experiences, and interactive story times, The Carle brings picture books to life.

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In addition to providing children with an introduction to art and story, these experiences are also rich in their support of early literacy. Reading picture books, whether as an independent reader or as a shared reading experience, builds language skills and fosters critical and creative thinking. Today's world needs those creative thinkers with solid problem-solving skills, and the ability to "read" pictures - to compose, communicate, and think critically about images in our visually saturated world -  is key.

The Carle is so pleased that MEFA supports us in our mission. For the past three years, our two organizations have joined forces in promoting the importance of fostering early literacy and critical and creative thinking skills in young children. Through book giveaways, art activities and displays, and support of The Carle's popular art studio blog, MEFA values not only how picture books support language development, but encourage creativity and imagination.

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So perhaps this little post will inspire you to return to that cherished picture book you had as a child. Read it again. What memories does it bring? Who will you share it with? What imaginative journey will it take you on? Whatever the answer, enjoy it!

Courtney Waring joined The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art as Director of Education in July 2013. For the past ten years, she worked at The Delaware Art Museum, serving in the role of Director of Education since 2007. Prior to that, she was an educator at The Barnes Foundation (Merion, PA) and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Courtney holds a Bachelors of Arts in Art History from Rosemont College, a Masters of Arts in Art History from The Pennsylvania State University, and a graduate level certification in elementary education from West Chester University.