Sunday, October 10, 2010

Picture Books Are Perfection, Really

This weekend there was an article in the New York Times describing the waning interest parents have in picture books for their young children, even preschoolers, preferring to propel them into chapter books and "real" literature. The proprietor of our local children's book store was quoted (misquoted, it turns out) as saying the displays of new picture books are often simply returned to boxes for shipment back to publishers, and publishers' lists of new picture books are therefore growing smaller by leaps and bounds. Maybe some teachers will buy them but the market for parents is no longer strong. Yikes.

If the thrust of this article is to be believed, then it is a very sad time for little people, their literacy development and their literature enjoyment. Picture books combine narrative themes, visual delights, and rich vocabulary in wonderful "packages" that support a young child's curiosity, awareness of the relationship of text to spoken words (a basic step in reading readiness), and inclination to talk about what is being heard and seen. Research amply supports the value of reading picture books aloud with children, and anecdotal evidence is abundant when one asks a friend what he or she remembers having read to them by a parent. Just consider the memorable journey in Make Way For Duckings or the inimitable character Eloise or the vivid pictures in The Snowy Day... Let's not pay any attention to the article other than to take energy from it to spread the good word about new books! Come by the library to see what is new this season. You'll be glad you did.