Thursday, June 30, 2016

Picture Books for Growing Attention Spans

It is no secret that word counts for picture books are getting smaller and smaller. A lot of people have theories as to why, ranging from parents having less time to spend reading aloud, to the push to make children readers earlier than ever before (thereby requiring picture books to have a smaller, easier-to-swallow word count for independent reading).

Even though the now-common shorter (under 700 word) picture books have a very important place in the market and on our bookshelves, longer picture books do as well. They often offer a more "quiet" read - giving readers a chance to immerse themselves in the plot, characters, illustrations; to slow down, calm down and breathe. They help transition young readers into listening to chapter books read aloud (and independently) and encourage longer attention spans. Longer picture books have more space and time to develop and solve problems integral to the story line - allowing young readers more time to solve the problems on their own before they are solved on the page, thereby instilling confidence.

Yet despite these truths, good, longer picture books can be challenging to find. To that end, I've put together a list of fantastic picture books ranging from 700 to 1800 words for your reading, and reading-aloud, pleasure (with a couple of "cheats" thrown in, as described below). Happy Reading!


Slugs in Love (704 words)
Susan Pearson, Kevin O'Malley
Amazon| IndieBound

Ladybug Girl (721 words)
David Soman, Jacky Davis
Amazon| IndieBound

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore (728 words)
William Joyce, Joe Bluhm
Amazon| IndieBound

Owl Moon (751 words)
Jane Yolen, John Schoenherr
Amazon| IndieBound

Kiss the Cow (752 words)
Phyllis Root, Will Hillenbrand
Amazon| IndieBound


Nightsong (815 words)
Ari Berk, Loren Long
Amazon| IndieBound

Room on the Broom (834 words)
Julia Donaldson, Axel Scheffler
Amazon| IndieBound

Hooray for Amanda and Her Alligator! (technically divided into "chapters," 838 words)
Mo Willems
Amazon| IndieBound

Leo: A Ghost Story (867 words)
Mac Barnett, Christian Robinson
Amazon| IndieBound

The Hello, Goodbye Window (873 words)
Norton Juster, Chris Raschka
Amazon| IndieBound


Blueberries for Sal (1042 words)
Robert McCloskey
Amazon| IndieBound

Duck, Duck, Goose (1056 words)
Tad Hills
Amazon| IndieBound

The Right Word: Roget and his Thesaurus* (1227 words)
Jen Bryant, Melissa Sweet
Amazon| IndieBound

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (1231 words)
Judi Barrett, Ronald Barrett
Amazon| IndieBound

Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas* (1231 words)
Lynne Cox, Brian Floca
Amazon| IndieBound


Bloom (1359 words)
Doreen Cronin, David Small
Amazon| IndieBound

Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy's Parade* (1363 words)
Melissa Sweet 
Amazon| IndieBound

Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton* (1414 words)
Don Tate
Amazon| IndieBound

Imogene's Last Stand (1502 words)
Candace Fleming, Nancy Carpenter
Amazon| IndieBound

Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt* (1697 words)
Kate Messner, Christopher Silas Neal
Amazon| IndieBound

Mr. Ferris and His Wheel* (1776 words)
Kathryn Gibbs Davis, Gilbert Ford
Amazon| IndieBound

*Non-fiction word counts commonly exceed the current industry standards for fiction. Starred books are either non-fiction picture books and/or include back matter/author's notes within word count numbers.

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