Disturbing Article From the NY Times–“Picture Books No Longer a Staple For Children”?!
Posted by homeschoolmentormom on October 8, 2010
Apparently, picture books are on the decline. According to this article from the NY Times, picture books are no longer the “staples” of early childhood that they used to be.
Say it isn’t so!
The article cites several reasons. One is the cost of picture books (I agree with this–new hardbacks are ridiculously expensive), the economy, and…guess what? Another form of “curriculum push-down.” Yep. Here we go again. Apparently, many parents feel so pressured to help their children become early readers that they are pushing them OUT of picture books prematurely–many times as early as age 4.
Pushing them OUT of picture books, and choosing to read only chapter books to them, instead.
This is NOT the way to grow fluent, confident readers.
Don’t get me wrong–I’m not bashing chapter books. You know that I LOVE chapter books. But preschoolers need picture books. kindergarteners need picture books. First graders need picture books, too. Emergent readers REALLY need picture books. The shorter sentences, the beautiful pictures and the familiar stories help young readers practice their reading in an enjoyable way. Picture books build their confidence. One of the best things you can provide for an emerging reader is lots of practice with their favorite picture books. For goodness sake, my boys are 9 and 7, and while we read lots of chapter books, they still love picture books! The best picture books are enjoyable for people of all ages.
We tend to think of picture books as being immature or simplistic. While this is true for some picture books (the twaddly ones), many picture books are actually amazingly complex. The pictures are works of art. The text often uses amazingly complex vocabularies. The key is finding the right picture books. (Be sure to see my posts on Choosing and Finding Classic Picture Books, and my abbreviated List of Classic Picture Books. If you want the whole long 25+ page list, you’ll need to purchase my book!)
By all means, when your children are ready, read them longer picture books. Next, work your way up to real chapter books (usually around age 5-6.) But don’t be too quick to give up on picture books!
Remember that pushing our children to “grow up” to soon–either emotionally or academically–usually backfires on us. Our goals should be to help our children learn and mature without pushing them, but without holding them back, either.
© 2010 Susan Lemons all rights reserved. Copyrighted materials may not be re-distributed or re-posted without express permission from the author.