Both “Pictures and Stories from Uncle Tom’s Cabin” and My Family’s Changing expose children to difficult realties that exist or have existed in society through the use of a “Picture Book.” In my personal experience, I have seen picture books used to help children understand a difficult reality: divorce. The Keywords for Children’s Literature article “Picture Book,” written by William Moebius, points out that some readers and writers “see the picture book as a site for ‘absorption'” (171). Through pairing words with pictures, children have an easier time understanding difficult ideas and concepts. I know this to be true because when I was ten, my parents got divorced. My older sister and I were able to understand and discuss our new reality, but my younger sister and brother were only six and seven at the time. Due to their young age, they had a hard time understanding the changes. I can recall my mother coming home with a book, that still sits in my basement, called My Family’s Changing. It is a picture book that covers the topic of divorce and includes questions for the young readers that allows them to think about their own feelings on the topic. The book introduced the idea of divorce to my young siblings, allowing them to begin to comprehend my parents’ situation and understand that many other young kids go through it as well. The book was used as a form of therapy for my siblings and a helpful parenting technique for my newly divorced parents.
Similarly, “Pictures and Stories from Uncle Tom’s Cabin” was used as an introduction to the concept of slavery for children in the 1800s. Just as divorce is a hard topic to cover with young children of divorced parents, slavery was a difficult topic to discuss during the time period that Uncle Tom’s Cabin was released. “Picture and Stories from Uncle Tom’s Cabin” helped children to begin to understand slavery and its negative impact without touching on it in too much detail, and it still helps children to understand slavery today.
“Pictures and Stories from Uncle Tom’s Cabin” provides a child with insight into the historic issues of slavery and racism during the 1800s, while My Family’s Changing provides a child with age-appropriate psychotherapy. Moebius supports these uses of the picture book in the closing line of his article that says, “The uses of the picture book – be they psychotherapeutic, sedative, role modeling (gender), mathematical skill-building, or as memory books for geography, cultural heritage, or history – are, to echo Barbara Bader, limitlesss” (173). Regardless of how a picture book is used, children take some form of knowledge away from each one they read.