This article by Gita Wolf, publisher of Tara Books, India (who will be joining us on our publishers panel in the SCBWI Bologna symposium next week) says it all so well.
Here are some snippets from it.
Thought is impossible without an image — Aristotle
When you look at a newspaper article — or an advertisement — what do you see first? The words or the image? And what do you remember later? If you are like most people, the odds are that the picture — the frozen moment or the carefully constructed image — will stay with you longer.
This is simply part of the human condition...
But when it comes to books and literature, pictures (at least for the adult reader) are traditionally seen as mere supplements to the text. Literature has largely come to mean the written word. There is a long and complex history behind why this is so, but the fact remains that in the literate world, the word triumphs over the image...
This is most obvious when we consider children. In children’s literature, we assume that it is the very young child who enjoys picture books. The older a child gets, the more she is lead towards reading ‘proper’ books. Children typically graduate from the visual to the word.
Seen another way, it is implicit that those who can read well will not spend too much time on a visual account of the same thing...
We forget that when a subject is rendered visually, it will not be the same thing.
The way we construct meaning from an image is through our perception of line, colour, form, depth and motion. Even with all this, our perception of the image as a whole is still more than just the sum of its parts. ‘Image’ resonates with the possibilities inherent in ‘imagination’. When words and images work together well, they don’t just say the same thing in two different ways.
They amplify each other, creating an experience that is an altogether distinct and expanded organisation of meaning.
Combining pictures & words
Delving into what this special experience could be has been a key project with Tara — the publishing house I’m part of — for the past decade. We’ve experimented with picture books not only for children, but for readers of all ages, trying to widen the experience of literature, given our fascination with visual communication. Gita Wolf.
Gita Wolf of Tara Books will be talking in our SCBWI Bologna symposium.