“Oh, The Thinks You Can Think! ― Dr. Seuss
I’m sure you’ve heard it many times, “you become what you think about.” Ok – now think about all the possible themes you can discover in children’s picture books. In this writing, I’d like to explore nine common motifs generally found in them.
1. Chronological events – These are stories that contain time elements such as the hours in a day, days of the week or months/seasons of the year that determine the story arc. A nice example is; Chicken Soup with Rice: A Book of Months (Maurice Sendak).
2. Cumulative stories – Each event repeats itself as a new character is introduced or a new event is added. A wonderful book to see this in action is; Today is Monday (Eric Carle).
3. Question and Answer stories – Here you will find story arcs containing questions that are answered. A classic example of this would be; Green Eggs and Ham (Dr. Seuss).
4. The Adventure – The protagonist searches for something on their quest. However, they decide to return to the way things were. To see an example of this, take a look at; The Salamander Room (Anne Mazer).
5. Sense of Security – The story creates a very warm, secure and comfortable feeling with the reader. A good example here would be; Snow Ponies (Cynthia Cotten & Jason Cockcroft)
6. Character Role Reversals – The smallest and youngest makes incredible accomplishments that go far beyond the capabilities of adults. A nice example here would be; The Carrot Seed (Ruth Krauss).
7. Deceiver Stories – In the story arc, a less powerful character outmaneuvers a more powerful one. An example of this type of story can be found in; Flossie and the Fox (Patricia McKissack & Rachel Isadora).
8. Loyalty is rewarded – The character in the book that is honest will always win over others who are not. A nice example to see this in action is; Andy and the Lion (James Daugherty).
9. Immigrant Stories – These are stories of families who moved to the United States to start a new life. A perfect example would be; Grandfather’s Journey (Allen Say).
Finally, if you’re wondering about picture books on ABCs, animals, insects, planets, and similar subjects, please see this related post …
How Children Benefit from Informational Picture Books (July 25, 2014) https://www.kobeemanatee.com/how-children-benefit-from-informational-picture-books/
~ Robert Scott Thayer