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  • Daniela Bonerba

I want more photos in our picture books



Good morning from Paris, this is Daniela Bonerba and it is currently 10am.


The topic today for this second episode of “Sipping coffee and sharing ideas” is: I want more photos in our picture books!


The birth of my daughter a few years ago introduced me by chance to illustrated children's books with photos. Elena was then three months old and I was looking for black and white books with pictures of shapes. Since very young children are not necessarily able to see all the colours, I was looking for a gentle way to introduce my daughter to books. Tana Hoban’s name soon came up in my internet searches. She took her place on my little darling’s bookshelves and prompted her mum's interest in books illustrated with photos rather than drawings.


With an eye trained to spot international trends, and a penchant for studying, I am often drawn to investigating the background of these trends. Thanks to my daughter, in 2017 I came across Tana Hoban. Since last year, my attention has focused on books with photos, following the interest expressed by certain publishers at the Bologna and Frankfurt book fairs 2019.


My feeling now is that the trend is back and even stronger than ever! It’s not surprising, photos being such an excellent way of communicating with children. They love them even more than sweets. Photos help them get an understanding of the world, whether these be photos of their parents or grandparents or just the objects around us..


Throughout the 20th century, photography tried its luck in the publishing world for the young, sometimes with remarkable success and large numbers of books sold. Over the last century, publishers regularly took up and dropped the trend without any real success, despite offering books of great interest. However, in the 1970s, Tana Hoban became a worldwide phenomenon. Her books are sold in numerous countries and are still a must-have in the youth market. In France, her predecessors in the ‘30s were Pierda (real name Pierre Portelette), Ylla and Robert Doisneau. After Tana Hoban came Nathalie Rizzoni, Jill Hartley and Massimiliano Tappari.


I truly hope that the children’s book market will be filled with photo books and that the genre will flourish. It has so much to offer children and is currently underrepresented. Moreover, seeing the trends, I suggest you get ready for more and more photo books for children. Publishers are no longer afraid to show realistic images and children love and encourage it ... And if the distributors and marketing agents don’t seem so keen on that, let’s encourage them to dream and especially to dare! We only grow if we are ready to take a risk and that’s the only way to find the bestseller of next year!


Well, that’s all for now, as always don’t forget to write me! I would be so delighted to take a break to read you. Cheers, Daniela



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