Picture Book History … and Cats

Did you know that the oldest American picture book still in print is  Millions of Cats by Wanda Gag? It was published almost 100 years ago, in 1928.

The story is about a lonely couple who decide to adopt a cat – but unfortunately, the husband can’t make up his mind and brings home hundreds of cats, thousands of cats, millions and billions and trillions of cats!

Wanda Gag was the first children’s book illustrator to use both sides of the page for her drawings so that when the book is open, you see one continuous picture from the left side to the right side (you can see this in the illustration above). Publishers call this a “double-page spread.” Look at some of the picture books at your house and see if you can find more examples of the double-page spread. Pictures like this help to move the story along.

If you don’t have a copy of Millions of Cats at your house, you can borrow one from Hoopla (electronic books free from the library), or find it on You Tube, or order one from an online bookstore. Maybe you can even read it to your cat!

Suggestions for Parents:

Reading aloud helps build confidence – set up a spot where your kids can read to the family pet, or let the children arrange a group of stuffed animals and have them read aloud to them. Pictures help tell the story – invite your child to make up a new story by reading the “pictures” in one of the books you have on hand. This helps with narrative skills and vocabulary as well as encouraging visual literacy.

Here is a storytelling version of Millions of Cats:

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