"Children are made readers on the laps of their parents."  - Emilie Buchwald

My mother was a voracious reader. Every week, we would go to the public library in downtown Mansfield to check out a new stack of books.  Mom always let me wander through the stacks in the children's section. I'd sit on the floor and pull book after book off the shelves. When it was time to leave, she'd always have to cajole me to the checkout. We always left with a huge stack of books. Sometimes, though, I had to leave books behind because we had exceeded the checkout limit.

I'm eternally grateful to my mother for instilling in me her love of reading. It's a gift that I've tried to pass on to my own children as well.

Even though my children are proficient readers in their own right, we still read together at bedtime. Sometimes, we'll read a novel but more often than not, we read picture books.

On Friday, July 10, my family and I attended the Writing with Pictures Exhibit at the California Center for the Arts, Escondido. Curated by art director, designer and instructor, Joy Chu, Writing with Pictures is a multi-media exhibit that tells the story behind the creation of the picture book: why we love them, and their widening audience and role in the 21st century. This exhibition features original published artwork from local illustrators, and from artists working with local writers.

I am incredibly honored that my forthcoming picture book, Pirate's Lullaby: Mutiny at Bedtime, illustrated by the amazingly talented, Tim Bowers, is part of the exhibition. But the exhibit was particularly meaningful to me as a mom, a reader and a writer.

 

Even before I had children, I would sit in the children's section of the bookstore and read picture books. When my husband and I were dating, I even gifted him a couple. Now, that we have children, we fill our house with books. And my children love pouring over the Scholastic catalog just as much as I did at their age. 

Many of the books in the Writing in Pictures Exhibition are family favorites - Weeds Find A Way is one of Claire's favorites while Luke enjoys Train Man, Bird & Squirrel and The Fartist.

At the exhibit, my children also discovered new books that they want to read. We've already requested Mummy Cat from our local library, for example. And both kids enjoyed identifying the celebrities in the non-fiction books illustrated by Kathryn Hewitt.

As a reader, I enjoyed seeing some of my favorite picture book art up close. There's something magical about the progression from rough sketch to final art. And being able to see the detail of the art and the brushstrokes up close?  Magical!

As a writer, I appreciated getting a glimpse into the minds and hearts of some of the most talented people on this planet.

Whether you are an aspiring picture book writer who hopes to catch a glimpse into the process of creating a picture book, an art lover, or a reader looking for your next great read, you'll enjoy every minute of the Writing with Pictures Exhibition at the California Center for the Arts in Escondido. Open Thursday through Sunday, from July 11 until September 13, 2015.

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