The Death of the Picture Book?
I read an article in the New York Times today that stopped me dead in my tracks. No pun intended, speaking of the title of this post. The article was entitled Picture Books Languish as Parents Push ‘Big-Kid Books’, and I found it completely sobering. Amongst the choice quotes in the article was this one from a bookstore manager in Washington, D.C.: “I see children pick up picture books, and then the parents say, â€˜You can do better than this, you can do more than this.â€™ Itâ€™s a terrible pressure parents are feeling â€” that somehow, I shouldnâ€™t let my child have this picture book because she wonâ€™t get into Harvard.â€
I admit, the “she won’t get into Harvard” hits a sensitive spot with me. In my high school, there was so much pressure to go to a great college, Ivy League especially, Harvard the most. Not that anything is wrong with Harvard, I had a number of good friends go there, and I have nothing against the school itself. But, I do think parents have to think twice about whether the end-all, be-all mark of success for their child (or for themselves as the parent) is whether or not their son or daughter has gotten into a “good college.” Is that really the goal we want to promote in our families and amongst our children?
So grab those picture books, I say. Buy a few from the bookstore so publishers know that not everyone wants to push their children to chapter books. I think the best way to help children love to read is to help them fall in love with books. Chapter books have their place in that process, but a beautifully illustrated picture book can awaken the mind and imagination of a youngster, which will serve him or her well beyond childhood. Some children are strong readers, like my eldest, who naturally gravitated to chapter books at a young age. But some are like my 5-year-old, who’d rather just run and jump and roll around all day instead of read. When I sit down with him and share a picture book, I can see that he is engaged and interested, at least for the short time it takes to read it! If I were to push a chapter book on him, I am pretty sure it would kill all joy of reading whatsoever. I want my kids to grow up loving to read, and loving to learn. Those are qualities that will last them a lifetime…no matter if and where God leads them to college!
What do you think about the potential death of the picture book?