Monday, July 06, 2015

The Role of Beauty in Learning

At Beautiful Feet Books we believe in the power of story. We also believe in the power of beauty to communicate truth, awaken imagination, and inform. Oftentimes the importance of beauty can be ignored in the pursuit of knowledge but we have found through years of experience that beauty can grease the wheels of education, especially when it comes to illustrations. Whenever we are considering the publication of a book, especially one for youngsters, one of the key criteria is the quality of the illustrations. This is one of the reasons we loved being able to reprint the d'Aulaire titles. Ingri and Edgar's superbly, and painstakingly, rendered illustrations helped shape generations of children's images of Columbus, Leif Erikson, Pocahontas, Benjamin Franklin, Buffalo Bill, and other key historical figures. Combined with their impeccable research and passion for American history, the d'Aulaires understood that when good history is combined with gorgeous illustrations, children will enjoy learning about the past.

In this month's issue of The Old Schoolhouse, Karen Andreola shares a story about her family's study of the Vikings and Leif Erikson. You can access the article here. I loved this quote: 
During rare moments when a busy home teacher is able to sit comfortably somewhere, she is likely to be found on the sofa with a picture book in hand, her children close beside her. Cozy and sweet? Yes, it is. These cozy times, however, should not be underestimated in their power to train children in the habit of attention. And picture books, or storybooks, have a wonderful way of introducing a subject, especially history.
Over thirty years of working with home educators we have seen the truth of this time and time again. Parents whose children had hated history tell us stories of their children now begging for "one more page" as they read through the d'Aulaire books, or Pilgrim Stories, or James Daughtery's lusciously illustrated classics. 

This is important to keep in mind as you choose books for your young children. If the illustrations are cartoonish or drab or farcical, those images will influence their early perceptions of historical characters. A bobbleheaded George Washington may not be what you want your child to think of when they consider the father of our nation. Of course we don't want to present perfect pictures of mere mortals and that is where accurate historical representations become so important. Balancing accurate history with inviting illustrations is what authors like the d'Aulaires do so well! 

Our new 2015-2016 catalog is now available! If you want to view it right now it's available online 
here. And if you would like to request a hardcopy, click here.

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