Friday, October 8, 2010
The latest controversy on NY Times involves picture books. According to the article, "Picture Books No Longer a Staple for Children," sales for this book genre are suffering and parents are bypassing the picture books. That may to true, but then the article continues with this:
"The economic downturn is certainly a major factor, but many in the industry see an additional reason for the slump. Parents have begun pressing their kindergartners and first graders to leave the picture book behind and move on to more text-heavy chapter books."
My daughter is in kindergarten this year. She just started to learn to read and has always loved books, especially picture books. Each picture book is a work of art for her, something to devour with open eyes, both the picture and the words. If a parent excludes picture books from their home library, their kids miss out on one of the most valuable forms of art for children. Pictures truly do speak a thousand words. And, if parents are no longer reading picture books with their children, both the parent and child are missing out on a wonderful bonding experience. It doesn't take any time at all to sit down together and read a short book. As far as chapter books go, just because a book is longer or contains more words does not mean it is better than a picture book or more age appropriate. In fact, many picture books are aimed at older readers. I'm still reading picture books as an adult because I enjoy the visual aspect and value the way picture books appeal to a reader's emotions. I've even seen our teenage babysitter pick up picture books in our home and read them to herself.
So, what kind of new picture books do we buy? We buy ...
- books that have personal appeal or are on a subject of personal interest
- books that can be shared and passed down from generation to generation
- books written or illustrated by an author we respect or have met in person
- books that help us teach
- books with visually stunning illustrations
- books that we cannot find in our public library system
I fully understand that new, hardcover picture books are a little pricey. But, if we expect authors and illustrators to continue to produce quality books and we value printed works, then we must also help support them in their endeavors. That means going to the library weekly and checking out new books, or purchasing a few new books for the home library every so often.
And finally, I just want to share a list of the Top 10 Reasons to Share Picture Books With All Ages [pdf] found on the ALA website. I'm not sure who the author is, but I think that this top ten list perfectly addresses why picture books are not just for very young children. (Read the full text at http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/aasl/conferencesandevents/confarchive/pittsburgh/PictureThis.pdf)
Have you purchased any new picture books, lately? Which ones? Do your older children (kindergarten age +) enjoy reading picture books?