Picture book

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Toddler with picture book
Christian Leberecht Vogel : The Artist's Sons (ca.1793)

The picture book is a book that mainly contains pictures. It is mostly a medium in children's literature that conveys texts from various literary genres and genres. The definition and history of the picture book are closely linked to changing social ideas. Originally, the term was used for any book that had illustrations . Nowadays it is usually understood as something specially for childrenwho cannot read yet or are in the early reading age. The images play a leading role in this, although there is a close correlation between image and text. The picture books are usually small in size (generally up to 30 book pages) and come in all formats. The large format book is the most commonly used form. Taking age into account, the picture book is often made of cardboard, tear-resistant paper or foil.



The reading primers , ABC books , fables and non-fiction books are the forerunners of the picture book . The primers and ABC books gained in importance from the 16th century onwards, as they brought the alphabet closer to children in a vivid way by assigning corresponding illustrations of animals, people and objects to the individual letters . Examples include: B. the "ABC of pictures with some reading exercises, memorial sayings and prayer sayings for children" (1788) and the "New ABC of pictures or German reading book for young people" (1795).

The fables gave account of their brevity, only little text here, so that spending on children often with many illustrations were enriched. In this way they came very close to the modern picture book.

In 1658 the theologian Johann Amos Comenius published his elementary work " Orbis sensualium pictus ". This non-fiction picture book should give children an initial access to knowledge, taking into account age-specific learning conditions, which heeded the principle of going from the simple to the complicated and from the known to the unknown.

The publication of Friedrich Justin Bertuch'sPicture Book for Children ” marked an early high point in the field of non-fiction . The 12-volume work was published between 1792 and 1830 and contained more than 6000 illustrations. In the period that followed, a number of non-fiction books with plenty of illustrations were created.

19th century

Troubled Peter

The actual picture book, in which the picture made up the largest part, the instruction pushed into the background and the nature of the child became more important, did not develop until the 19th century. Around 1830, the picture book was decisively shaped by the late Romanticism and illustrated, in accordance with the romantic mindset, mainly folk songs, nursery rhymes, fairy tales and traditional epic stories, such as B. Till Eulenspiegel , Reineke Fuchs , Münchhausen , but also Robinson Crusoe . Well-known illustrators of this time are Ludwig Richter , Franz Graf von Pocci , Wilhelm von Kaulbach , Moritz von Schwind , Peter Carl Geissler , Fedor Flinzer and others.

Struwwelpeter , created by the Frankfurt doctor Heinrich Hoffmann , was published in 1845 , the first picture book specifically aimed at small children. The book was created as a kind of stopgap solution, as Hoffmann hadn't found anything suitable when looking for a Christmas present for his son. He found the range of children's books too moral and instructive. In his stories, he processed experiences that came entirely from the child's environment and followed a simple order of good and bad. It undoubtedly met the taste of children and parents alike, as the great sales success confirmed. A similar success had the picture stories of Wilhelm Busch of Max and Moritz (1865).

At the turn of the century, German picture books were shaped by the influences of Art Nouveau and the art education movement . The art education movement brought a changed image of childhood with new pedagogical and psychological insights, which flowed into the work of the picture book artists. Well-known illustrators of Art Nouveau were the Swiss Ernst Kreidolf , Konrad Ferdinand Edmund von Freyhold , and Tom Seidmann-Freud . Else Wenz-Viëtor , Fritz Koch-Gotha and Gertrud Caspari were closer to the art education movement with their ideal world notions of the 1920s.

A central aspect in the discussion of picture books played (and plays) the concept of "child suitability". At the beginning of the 20th century, the art historian Konrad Lange determined picture book art suitable for children: among other things, clear outlines, calm colors, not too bright contrasts, primary colors; uninterrupted forms, the general and typical; no complicated perspective foreshortening, but flat, decorative style; simplified stylized forms. Thus, the traditional forms of picture book illustration are the uniqueness of the characters, manageable spatiality and separation between fantasy and reality. This historical concept of what is appropriate for children is rejected today by picture book research as a guideline for modern picture books, as there is insufficient knowledge of child picture book reception.


In a picture bookstore

Today's picture book has to deal with a multitude of different subject areas and styles and is integrated into a rapidly developing and rapidly changing culture through television, film and computers. This also means that more and more adults discover the picture book for themselves and the market reacts accordingly. Increasingly, picture books are becoming more complex and demanding in terms of format, equipment, scope and topic. There are also more and more international co-productions by larger publishers, which enrich the range of artistically valuable and trivial picture books.

The modern picture book (since around the 1980s) can be divided into four subcategories: narrative picture book, fairy tale picture book, non-fiction picture book and game picture book. Furthermore, the following picture styles can be distinguished: graphic style (drawing, line), painterly style (color surface), caricature (reduction, exaggeration, exaggeration), photorealism (high degree of illusion), abstraction (non-figurative), collage (cut, torn paper) . Image and text can be linked in three ways: Image and text run parallel; Image and text are contrapuntal; The story of the picture and the story of the text tell their own story, but are intertwined.

Examples of different styles and image techniques :

Due to the conditions of the book market, the picture book today is limited in aesthetic, educational and book design terms: the text must not dominate the picture, 30 pages should not be significantly exceeded; linear narration, separation of factual information and fiction as well as avoiding mixing of literary, media and artistic categories (e.g. narrative-descriptive) must be observed.

Festivals and fairs

Three picture book illustrators: Kim Dong-sung , Jon Klassen and Alessandro Sanna (2014), at the Berlin International Literature Festival

The most important international fair for picture books is the annual Bologna Children's Book Fair , at which the renowned Bologna Ragazzi Award is presented. In Germany, among other things, the children and youth program of the international literature festival berlin is a forum for the public presentation of extraordinary picture books.

Special forms

In addition to classic picture books made of paper or cardboard, the following forms also occur today:

  • Bath books are made of plastic and are water-resistant.
  • Scented picture books are partially printed with a scented varnish that contains microencapsulated artificial aromas . By lightly rubbing or pressing these capsules burst open and release a fragrance.
  • Threading books contain graphics with holes that can be "supplemented" by pulling a string.
  • In addition to conventional graphic elements, feeling books also contain haptic elements that you can touch and feel, such as B. faux fur or sandpaper.
  • Tactile illustrated books are particularly aimed at blind children, but are sometimes equally useful for sighted children.
  • Peephole picture books contain holes to see through.
  • Coloring books contain colorless outline graphics that users can color in themselves.
  • Pop-up books contain glued-in paper elements that unfold into a three-dimensional object when the page is opened.
  • Puzzle books contain removable puzzles .
  • Lift-the-flap books contain glued cardboard or paper flaps behind which readers can discover additional illustrations.
  • Book-and-record sets are picture books that come with a CD or audio cassette on which the text of the book is read.
  • Sticker Books (Engl. Sticker album ) contained marked areas where (usually included) sticker to be glued.
  • Sound books contain buttons or a sticky bar with switches that can be used to call up sounds and pieces of music that match the story.
  • Hidden object books , also known as hidden object books , are mostly equipped with large-format, textless illustrations in which a wealth of objects, figures and parallel actions are shown.

Authors and illustrators


Here is a selection of picture book prices:

See also


  • Klaus Doderer, Helmut Müller (ed.): The picture book. History and development of the picture book in Germany from the beginning to the present . Beltz: Weinheim and Basel 1975, 542 pages, ISBN 3-407-10906-7 .
  • Jens Thiele: The picture book. Aesthetics - theory - analysis - didactics - reception. With contributions by Jane Doonan, Elisabeth Hohmeister, Doris Reske and Reinhard Tabbert. Universitätsverlag Aschenbeck & Isensee: Bremen - Oldenburg 2000 (2nd extended edition 2003), 222 pages, ISBN 3-89598-668-2 .
  • Bettina Kümmerling-Meibauer: picture book . In: Gert Ueding (Hrsg.): Historical dictionary of rhetoric . Scientific Book Society: Darmstadt 1992 ff., Vol. 10 (2011), Sp. 146-161.
  • Tobias Kurwinkel: picture book analysis. Narrative, aesthetics, didactics. Francke: Tübingen 2017, 306 pages, ISBN 978-3825248260 .

Web links

Wiktionary: picture book  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Thiele, Jens: The picture book: Aesthetics-theory-analysis-didactics-reception. Oldenburg 2000, pp. 158, 163.
  2. Thiele, Jens: The picture book. In: Thiele, Jens / Steitz-Kallenbach, Jörg (Hrsg.): Handbuch Kinderliteratur. Freiburg 2003, pp. 70-79.
  3. Thiele, Jens: Crafts, Tradition and Image Creation. The visual storytelling art of Margret and Rolf Rettich, Städtisches Museum Braunschweig, October 28, 2001 April 23, 2007.
  4. Thiele, Jens: The picture book: Aesthetics-theory-analysis-didactics-reception. Oldenburg 2000, p. 203.
  5. Smell it! Fragrance picture books for the little ones | CARLSEN publishing house. Accessed July 31, 2020 .
  6. Baeschlin fragrance picture book | Series information and works | beck - shop.de. Accessed July 31, 2020 .
  7. Scented varnishes | Media community 2.0. Accessed July 31, 2020 .
  8. Julius von Schlosser : A Veronese picture book and the courtly art of the XIV century. In: Yearbook of the Art History Collections of the allerh. Imperial house. Vienna 1895, pp. 144–230.