I not only love stories, but I think they are the fabric of our world and vitally important. Stories literally make up your life and stories can change it. In a lot of ways, I tend to find this idea a bit abstract for many people and I often get strange looks when I espouse this belief. But sometimes I come across something that shows beautifully how a story can make a huge impact on lives.
Dan Santat is a great picture book creator and I love many of his books. My favorite, however, is After the Fall, which is about what happens to Humpty Dumpty after his famous fall off the wall. He experiences what many of us do after a traumatic experience – he has a hard time getting back to normal. It’s changed him in big ways, some of which are not so great.
I love the book and even more what Mr. Santat had to say about it when I made a recording with about it, but I didn’t expect it to get better. And then I came across this blog post from Dan himself about an experience he had in the parking lot of the grocery store where he met a man whose life he had impacted with that very book.
Now, this is a picture book. It’s got less than 40 pages and only 366 words. This post has about that many words. It’s not a lot. And most adults dismiss picture books as being for little kids and thus not very complex or meaningful. The story Mr. Santat shares, however, isn’t about a kid reading the book. It’s about an adult.
Now, I think picture books are amazing and can often be powerful and impactful in ways longer stories can rarely hope to be, but most of the time I get looked at funny for giving my adult friends picture books. But a story about a grown man being so affected by a picture book gets my attention just the same. This shows that I’m not crazy and that picture books do matter. Sometimes they make all the difference.