What makes a great
read-aloud Picture Book?

(Presupposing, of
course, that all the other hallmarks of any great story, regardless of genre,
are in place – i.e. excellent plot, characters to cheer for, and a satisfying
ending.)
 
RICH, LIVELY, FRESH LANGUAGE

Many adults
mistakenly assume that Picture Books should only contain words that are part of
the average 4 or 5 year old’s vocabulary. 
But Picture Books are MEANT to be READ ALOUD by an ADULT to a child.  It shouldn’t matter a whit, if the child does
not understand every single word. 
 As
long as the adult knows how to read a story well with great love and vim and
vigor, then the child will eventually come, quite naturally, to understand any
unfamiliar words.  (There is a trend
nowadays, though, that defies this notion, and I have had to struggle mightily
with some editors over word choice.)

What exactly is a
“rich” word?  Have a look at “Amos and
Boris” by William Steig, and you will see these “rich” words studded on every
page – words like: phosphorescent, frazzle, delicacy, radiance, grandeur. 
Roll them around your tongue.   
What do they feel like?  Majestic? 
Full-bodied?  Plump and
juicy?  Perhaps Frank McCourt described
it best when he wrote about encountering the words of Shakespeare for the first
time as having “jewels in my mouth.”
 (excerpt from article I wrote for Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 Blog)