Since its inception, First Second has been defined by graphic novels spanning all age and genre categories, from pre-school nursery rhymes to adult non-fiction and everything in between. We live in an unprecedented creative explosion for the graphic novel medium, and season after season, First Second has grown into a home for the best creators and the best works in the field.

So why picture books?

Picture books are close relatives of graphic novels. Both combine words and pictures, and as far as you can look back, there have always been some that blur the boundaries between them, from In the Night Kitchen to Knuffle Bunny. Some of First Second’s titles for young readers over the years have been shelved variously among comics, graphic novels and picture books—so it’s no surprise we’d venture over that fence.

In the past decade, all around the country, educators and librarians have confirmed beyond all doubt that the classic comics elements of panels, sequential narrative, and word balloons are not only helpful transitional reading tools for budding readers, but also even more: they can be the medium of denser, richer reading content. Far from supplanting prose literacy, the visual literacy of comics is turning out to nourish and foster lifelong, voracious readers. That’s what we’ll be providing in our picture books – books that combine the traditional picture book format with a comics aesthetic and language tools.

“Some of our most beloved creators—Sara Varon, LeUyen Pham, and George O’Connor, to name a few—are esteemed talents in the picture book sphere who are already incorporating comics into their work. So it seems fitting that we broaden our list with picture book projects under the First Second banner, with works that include comics elements as well as showcasing great art and great story from great voices,” says First Second’s Editorial Director, Mark Siegel.

Upcoming picture book titles from First Second in 2014 and 2015 include Sleep Tight, Anna Banana!, the first in a series by a mother and son team where Anna Banana’s colorful stuffed animals are all the company she needs. In Julia’s House for Lost Creatures, Ben Hatke tells a charmingly fantastical story in the tradition of Hayao Miyazaki and Charles Vess; Ariel Cohn and Aron Steinke’s Zoo Box protagonists accidentally open a box in their attic and let out a zoo.  And James Sturm, Andrew Arnold, and Alexis Frederick-Frost provide a companion for younger readers to their award-winning Adventures in Cartooning series with a new set of picture books featuring the knight and Edward the horse, the first of which is Sleepless Knight.