Inspired by his favorite picture books from childhood, like The Pokey Little Puppy and The Little Engine that Could, Loren Long has tried to pass on that inspiration to children through his books. He has a series about Otis the Tractor and he is the illustrator of President Obama’s picture book Of Thee I Sing.
When illustrating, Long strives to make his books timeless. He finds that making Otis into an old-fashioned tractor rather than a John Deere helps simplify the pictures and that Otis is recognizable as a tractor to little children.
“It can become a performance, and it can become a very distinctly personal performance for any given little child,” says Long.
Long wants to “create an experience for little children” through his books because it is often performed or read to them by somebody who loves them. Not only does it help children to build reading and speaking skills, but it also helps with story development and comprehension by means of performance. Making the book come to life through performance is magical.
“Your children…will no doubt take with them throughout their entire life, not only those books they loved when you read to them, but the feeling of human love when you read to them,” says Long.
With his books, Long hopes he can make a lifelong impact on a child he does not even know though his books like his favorite author did. He strongly advocates reading to children because not only will it make an impact on them, but it will also create a release from the daily life of adults.
Long’s new book Otis and the Puppy, was released in March 2013.