Homepreschool and Beyond

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    Homepreschool and Beyond will give parents the knowledge they need to find “balance” for their family. Find out what young children need to know—and how to teach it. Gain the confidence you need to relax and enjoy those precious preschool years—and beyond.

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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.

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5 Responses to “Disturbing Article From the NY Times–“Picture Books No Longer a Staple For Children”?!”

  1. LaToya said

    Oh my, I was just at a friends house and her hubby was demanding that she get rid of the picture books they have for their 2 and 3 year old boys. I think it’s crazy to get rid of them at all. My boys 2 and 4.5 have all their picture book and my mom kept mine as well. It was wonderful to have them to share with my children. And I love hearing the stories that my children come up with when they look at the pictures. Something new and different each time they look at them.

    • Oh, how sad! Please send them the link to my article, maybe it will help. (If not, be sure to ask them if they will give them to you, or to another family that will use them!) We have to defend picture books–our children need them!!
      ~Susan

  2. Christin said

    First off, I disagree with that article. Picture books are wonderful and harmless (given the content is good). Shop sales and consignment if they’re too pricey, but someone is buying them. There are times I will pay full price simply because it’s a favorite of my child’s.
    But I wanted to thank you Susan, for stopping by my blog and leaving your feedback on my post “Laying a Foundation for Your Preschooler”. I left you a comment back as well. 🙂

    • I agree–picture books are wonderful and very important. We shop at a Goodwill Thrift store that sells their picture books for 55 cents each-or less! I’ve amassed a wonderful collection that way.
      Thanks for the response, and the comment!
      Susan

  3. Well, they didn’t stop over at my house. Our house is full of picture books. Do we go buy retail for them all? At $15.99 (What I paid for This is Not My Hat yesterday at a book signing) we don’t buy a lot of books full retail. We get a lot of our books used and we get a lot of our books from the library and read them and check them out over and over again. When it seems like there’s a book that we want to add to our home library, then we start looking around to buy it.

    I’ve been very impressed with my son’s vocabulary (he’s 26 months old right now) and all we read are picture books. The pictures themselves lend to great discussions. We’ve had many “what’s that?” sessions where after reading a picture book we talk about the pictures and he seems to understand more.

    I realize that this article was written two years ago, but I wonder what it would look like if they surveyed libraries and the popularity of picture books. That might give us better insight of what children are reading than sales from publishers.

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