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ECC Guest Post: The Magic of Picture Books

Josie Dallam, Sales Assistant at Little Bee Books, on using picture books to destress from the world

To say it has been a stressful time is an understatement. I feel like I have read every article under the sun about how to relax and escape anxiety, but they seem to require dedicated time and doing something new, which can be hard. And honestly, I’m trying to destress, not add to things by having to worry if my sourdough starter is still alive. But I have found a solution, a relatively quick way to reduce anxiety, one that lies at the heart of the children’s book community: Picture books. 

I love picture books. I love the funny ones, nostalgic ones, moving ones. But to destress, my favorite category is the aesthetic slightly esoteric ones; the books with beautiful illustrations I want to live in. For me, I have two of them. I keep these picture books on my desk, mixed into the stack of books for work and notebooks and everything else. When I need a quick recharge, a reminder of the world outside my apartment, that good things exist, I grab a book. I’ll either read the whole book if I have time or study a favorite spread. And this moment never fails to release the tension from my shoulders and give me a more hopeful mindset. 

Picture books are built on a foundation of hope and love for the future, which is why I think they are the best books to be reading now. They are proof that things matter, and tomorrow will exist, and we can equip the kids of today to face it head-on. If we didn’t believe in the future, we wouldn’t make picture books! I think they’re magical. 

I think the picture books that will destress you are unique to each person, which harkens back to part of the beauty of picture books. Is there anything more joyful than watching a kid interact with a page that you might have passed up the first time around? I knew a toddler who could spend hours looking at the Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe page from Carson Ellis’ Home. The key to finding your picture book is connecting to that sense of childhood wonder. It’s this association of feeling loved, happy, hopeful that resets your mindset, allows you to reclaim the sense of everything being exciting and full of endless opportunities. Reading picture books allows hope to feel possible during these bleak times.

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