Images and image descriptions provide a full multi-sensory reading experience for young readers.
Where the Wild Things Are. Make Way for Ducklings. The Snowy Day. Corduroy.
These classic books, and the rest of the Top 100 Picture Books, are well-loved tales that have been treasured and shared by grandparents, parents, and children alike. Their engaging stories and heartwarming illustrations bring characters and action to life in a rich, multi-sensory experience for young children. Educators and parents know how important books are for the earliest readers. Getting kids “hooked on books” through that classic bedtime picture book has profound effects on literacy later in life, both from how a child learns to read and how a child perceives herself as being part of the world of books.
Imagine for a moment, however, that you can’t see the illustrations, nor can anyone describe them for you. Your reading and listening experience would certainly be incomplete. The Bookshare team decided to remedy this shortfall so young members could visualize the wild rumpus in Where the Wild Things Are and all the food devoured by The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
In 2014, we embarked on a special project to create a collection of classic picture books containing original illustrations with complete image descriptions. Our list of the Top 100 Picture Books came to us through the School Library Journal, one of the essential sources of information about children’s literature. Of course there are plenty of wonderful books that aren’t on this list, but we knew we’d have a worthwhile collection chosen by a knowledgeable group of school librarians.
It wasn’t a small task to bring all the images in the imaginative formats used by children’s authors into our collection, but we did it. Thanks to the hard work of Benetech’s summer interns, dedicated volunteers, and staff, we successfully described all of the images in these one hundred classic children’s books.
This work gave the team tremendous satisfaction to make the books they loved as children, or books they read to their own children, fully accessible. Favorite characters such as Curious George, Frog and Toad, Harold and his purple crayon, Madeline, and Peter Rabbit are now fully realized and can be enjoyed through images and image descriptions. To get started, browse through the Top 100 Picture Books in Bookshare. Then log in, select a book, get comfortable, and click on Read Now to enjoy one of your favorites in Bookshare Web Reader.