Picture books look back on a rather long history, but have changed significantly over time. “The visible world” by Johann Amos Comenius is considered the first picture book ever, It was published in 1658 and was intended to explain the world to children with the help of 150 woodcuts and texts.
Until the 18th century, such and similar books were the only children’s books with pictures. It was not until around 1830 that the idea arose that picture books are not only suitable for learning but also for telling stories. This was because children and adolescents were not seen as unfinished adults until the 18th century. In addition, it was around this time that the so-called optical age began.
For a long time there were pictures, paintings and illustrated books only in churches or in very rich houses. Only when panoramas were invented as large round paintings and exhibited at fairs, pictures became accessible to many people and aroused their interest in seeing. As a result, this led to a number of different optical inventions, such as photography, the cinema or television. At the same time, the picture book developed into a mass-produced article, after there were now also improved printing presses. However, the actual story of the picture book begins only in the age of Romanticism. The people enjoyed nature and at the same time longed for the supposedly better, old times.
The picture books from this period reflect this attitude again and show a beautiful, healthy world. Incidentally, this is also the root of the saying that something is as beautiful as in a picture book. There was a kind of liberation by the book “The Struwwelpeter” in 1844, because in this book there were the first time naughty children and thus a bit more reality. Starting in 1900, thoughts began about what makes a book child-friendly and what images are the right images for children. These considerations are still ongoing.
Meanwhile there are picture books in numerous variants.
However, picture books are by no means only aimed at babies and toddlers, even though books with thick pages made of cardboard and simple pictures are really intended for this target group and should help them learn to speak. But there are also picture books intended for older children, and even picture books for adults. Common to all picture books is that the pictures are the center of attention. Unlike in other books, the pictures in picture books are not just a decorative accessory that loosens up the texts, but the pictures as well as texts tell a story.
Write and design instructions and tips for the picture book
If a hobby author wants to write a picture book, he will quickly realize that this is not so easy. There are certainly many tips on how a writer can write and design an appealing, interesting and visually beautiful picture book.
However, by far the most important tip and the most important prerequisite for writing a picture book is that the author must see the world through the eyes of his audience. This means that the images and the stories are completely different, depending on whether the author designed a picture book for babies or writes for beginners, for example.
There are also differences in terms of the instructions, because there are different ways in which the pictures and the texts in the picture book can be combined. If the pictures and the texts tell the story together, this is called picture-text-parallelism. In this case the texts explain the pictures and vice versa. The opposite case is called plaited braid.
This means that the images and the texts play around each other and tell each individual story step. If the pictures tell something else or the opposite of the lyrics, they speak of contrapuntal narration.
If an author wants to write a picture book, he does not just have to come up with a story, turn it into a child-friendly text and think about how he wants to combine his text with pictures, but he also has to decide what kind of pictures he uses. Essentially, the pictures in picture books differ in three major main groups. Monoscenic images represent a single moment in history, whereas pluriscent images show several scenes that take place simultaneously.
An image-image montage is used when a single image represents a time course or a movement.