Monday, October 25, 2010

Article/Saving An Endangered Species with Rob Sanders

How to Save the Newest Endangered Species—Picture Books
By Rob Sanders
Picture books are said to be on the endangered species list. As a child of the 60s I grew up hearing about endangered species. In fact, the Endangered Species Act was passed in 1967. The efforts of endangered species activists have saved many species and some species have even been removed from the endangered list. Yes, of course, some species have been lost, but far fewer than would have been lost without action.
But picture books endangered? Say it isn’t so. Evidently the economy coupled with children moving into chapter books at earlier and earlier ages are to blame. Of course, lack of sales of picture books is the bottom line threatening the species most.
Some of the same actions taken to protect endangered animal species could also be used to protect the endangered picture book.
1.     Nurture them.
Talk about picture books. Use picture books in lessons, lectures, and sermons. Cherish and value them. Laugh with them. Cry with them. Be amazed at them. Tell others about them.
2.     Protect their habitat
Picture books live with families and in schools, classrooms, and libraries.
You can help protect these habitats by:
·        Giving picture books as gifts.
·        Donating picture books to a school media center or public library.
·        Sharing book lists (such as Caldecott or Golden Kite award-winning books) with parents, teachers, school media specialists, and public librarians.
·        Become a volunteer in a media center and volunteer to read picture books to children.
·        Develop lesson plans based on or using picture books. Share the lesson plans on a database, web site, or in other ways.
Another habitat for picture books is book stores—independent and the big-chain ones. Often the children’s buyer or the manager of a store would be open to a volunteer coming in to read picture books to children, setting up seasonal picture book displays, and conducting author visits and signings.
3.     Remember—only the strongest and fittest will survive
Not every picture book can be saved. Just as in the wild, only the strong will survive. For picture books that means the best crafted and most unique books and the ones that resonant with the audience. By strongest and fittest I don’t mean rhyme over non-rhyme or fiction over non-fiction. I do mean quality over quantity.

4.     Intervene to help newborns
Become the champion of new, talented picture book authors. Mentor those authors and refer them to others who can help launch and grow their careers. When you find a picture book that is exceptional, extraordinary, and a cut above the rest, spread the news. Write a column for your local newspaper, tell teachers and librarians, blog about them, feature them on your website, and visit your local book stores to encourage them to stock the books.

5.     Join with others of like mind and let your voice be heard
Endangered species were rescued by the actions of many. The same could be true for picture books. When those of us who know the value of these colorful, carefully-crafted wonders unite to talk about them and when we encourage others to read and value them, we may be ensuring that this endangered species never becomes extinct.

Rob Sanders is a writer who teachers and a teacher who writes. He has just snagged a deal with Golden Books-Random House to publish Cowboy Christmas (available fall 2012). Visit him at his website at:


  1. Rob, great article. However, as long as there are little kids with imaginations, and parents out there willing to feed those imaginations, I am sure picture books will thrive. They had better thrive, because I have 9 published and another coming out soon.

    "A picture book a day keeps imagination in play!"

    Margot Finke
    Books for Kids - Manuscript Critiques

  2. Great analogy with extinction and all. Pretty cool. I like Margot's quote too. "A picture book a day keeps imagination in play!" Thanks, Lynne, for sharing.

  3. @Margo. Congratulations, on the 10th -- That's wonderful news! I know we will all band together and keep picture books thriving. I bought one just today. Actions speak louder than words, I say! @Christie -- I agree! And you're very welcome. I am enjoying your blog as well. Hugs all around!

  4. Great post, Rob, and thanks to you Lynne for hosting this and helping spread the picture book word. I love your analogy with endangered species and couldn't agree more with what you have to say here.

  5. Great article, Bob & Lynne!

    Picture books rock! I teach part-time to young kids and they love them.

    Lynne, I'm your follower. I'm hope you'll follow back at

  6. Hi, Mayra! So glad you are following. I'm glad you said something because I often read the bookcase and thought I was already a follower. Hugs!

  7. Congratulations, Margo!

    And thank you for sharing this wonderful post, Lynne. There are some great ideas here for how we can continue to support the writing community as a whole, and the picture-booking community specifically.

  8. @Ishta! Thanks for your comment. Rob will be at NY -- so hopefully you will get to meet him in person. His enthusiasm in catching. Hugs!