To Illustrate or Not? Yes–Absolutely!

In the above illustration from Don’t Make Me Rattle! the reader can see the heat-sensing ability of rattlesnakes.

I’ve been at odds with some of the ideas of traditional publishers lately.  First is the preference to avoid rhyming in picture books. Personally, I feel picture books should always rhyme. I don’t think Dr. Suess would be as popular as he is without the rhyming. He even made words up!

Another disagreement I’ve had with publishers is over illustrations. I hire illustrators to create bold, brightly colored images. Now, a study from Carnegie Mellon says children’s books should have fewer illustrations!

And the authors of this article say to keep it simple: Streamlining book illustrations improves attention and comprehension in beginning readers (by Cassondra M. Eng, Karrie E. Godwin & Anna V. Fisher). They found that reading comprehension was enhanced by the removal of extraneous materials, such as illustrations.

Despite their conclusions, I think illustrations are important in children’s books. We are very visual animals and use our color vision extensively.  Bright colors appeal to young children and color is known to affect moods and behavior.

Okay, I understand that if children only have words to read, they will concentrate on them and have better reading comprehension. But where is the joy of reading, the excitement of opening a book, delighting in the illustration, then delving into the words? If you let a child choose a book to read, it will usually be the one with the bright, colorful pictures.

I realize that the illustrations in my books are what attracts buyers, but then they do enjoy the words—especially the rhyming words! I get letters from kids and adults about this. Colorful illustrations and quality text work together to improve not only the reading but the interest in reading.  A minority of teenagers today read for enjoyment. If the love of books isn’t ingrained in the early readers, interest in reading will fade as they age. The content of the words is enhanced with a skillfully rendered picture.

And, to be honest, the illustrations aren’t only for the children. Adults appreciate them, too, just like the rhyming!

If you want to enjoy colorfully illustrated picture and adventure books, and believe as I do that illustrations keep the kids reading, visit My Books here at ElaineAPowers.com and Our Books at Lyric Power Publishing LLC to check out our wonderful science-based, illustrated, rhyming, FUN, educational books.

Book Note: Here’s a direct link to Don’t Make Me Rattle, which is full of scientific information about rattlesnakes, with fantastic colorful illustrations’ and ALL of the science is written in rhyme to help the student remember the facts. How about that!

infographic complete book description of book Don't Make Me Rattle