Illustrations in children's books: why is it so important?

Illustrations in children's books: why is it so important?

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Today, December 8, International Artist’s Day is celebrated all over the world. It’s one of the oldest professions in the world, because thanks to artists, historians and archaeologists have the opportunity to study ancient history, and ancient drawings (for example, cave paintings) give a great insight into how people used to live.

But if the artist's profession itself appeared a long time ago, the first children's illustrations appeared around the end of the 19th century. Then, the main principles of children's books were: beauty, the ability to convey to the reader the value of artistic culture, and artistic creativity.

Since then, children’s literature has come a long way and it has become an independent art form.

The earliest children's illustrator is Randolph Caldecott (1846-1886), a British artist and illustrator. It was in his honour that one of the most significant American awards in children's illustrated literature, the Caldecott Medal, was established in 1938. His drawings are imbued with subtle humor, real emotions and the atmosphere of that time.

Times are changing, and while children's illustration is continually evolving, it still has varying requirements. Nowadays, children's illustration is experiencing a real flourish and is crucial when buying books or choosing a publishing house.

And this isn’t surprising, because how else does a child make sense of the world? It is through images, sounds, and colors. The artistic style that the artist incorporates when illustrating has a great influence on children. The illustrations that accompany the fairytale, help you better understand the plot, recognise and love characters by description, and learn to distinguish good from bad.
Children can distinguish heroes from villains by their facial expressions, their smile or grin, and expressions, as well as gestures and way of speaking. And it is the illustrations that help you fall in love with books and reading: if a child likes the cover and the pictures inside, then they will happily agree to listen to a fairytale.

Also, using the pictures in the book, children most often learn to recognise what animals, plants and birds look like. Therefore, there are some parents, but mostly grandparents, who believe that animals should look as realistic as possible in books. But this is not entirely true, because children can make sense of images and can easily distinguish a bear from a hare, even if they stand on two legs and have a pearly white smile.

In conclusion, I’d like to emphasize that when creating children's illustrations, there are no general rules or principles. There are as many approaches, techniques, and color combinations as there are artistic styles. Therefore, when choosing children's picture books, it’s important to focus on your own preferences and tastes, or choose books with your child who is, after all, the main audience and judge of the art of children's illustrations.

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