On Picture Books

I’ve been ruminating, for the past 16 hours or so, on the Book Chat Collective’s latest post:

The NY Times reported on a trend that parents are purchasing fewer picture books. Rather, they are pushing children towards chapter books at a younger age. This trend is being fueled by parents’ worry over their children meeting standards on standardized tests.”

I have to say, this just makes me sad. I love picture books. My mother read to me often when I was little, and I’m sure fostered my interest in reading at a very early age. I was one of those freak kids who could read on her own before age three, and though we were extremely short on money when I was young, somehow my parents always made sure that my voracious appetite for books was satiated. I have fond memories of the heartwarming Little Bear books, sweet stories like Oliver and Amanda, and silly tales like The Amazing Bone.

When I hit early adulthood and realized that someday I would have a family of my own, I began re-buying those books from my childhood. My mom, who shares my love for good stories and glorious illustrations, has helped me in my efforts and added to my collection with gifts at Christmases and birthdays. Now that I’m a mother, I have a fantastic collection of picture books, and nothing makes me happier than when my children go to the shelves of “Mommy’s Books” and choose a story to share with me or read on their own.

I get that there are goals to be met, tests to be taken and standards to be exceeded. I want my children to excel as much as the next parent (well, OK, maybe not as much as the next parent…. Some parents are nuts. But that’s another post). But I believe that excellence in reading begins with a love of reading, and that a love of reading begins with beautiful pictures, sweet little stories, and the experience of sharing a book together.

(P.S. – May I recommend, if you have any children around who might enjoy a picture book, that you seek out The Amazing Bone? It’s hilarious, intelligent, and imaginative. It was my favorite both when I was six and now that I’m 33. Go. Now. I’ll wait.)

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5 thoughts on “On Picture Books

  1. Word! Picture books are great. I was really sad at the mother who was talking about how her son was a great reader who could read chapter books, but only ever wanted to read picture books. Let him read those books! Reading isn’t like taking vitamins, something you should do “because it’s good for you.”

    Bah. She probably also feeds all the leftover Halloween candy to “the goblins” and only goes to like 6 houses anyway.

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  2. It truly is sad to me. I think it’s a tragedy really and I hope the tide turns. The pressure on kids to bypass picture books is, in my opinion as an English teacher, a surefire way to turn some kids off from reading entirely.

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  3. I love picture books! My favorites are anything by Mem Fox, (great snuggly bedtime stories) and the Llama Llama books. My kids love ’em!

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  4. Amen! We love picture books in our house. Some of our favorites are ones that I have from my child hood also, like the Frog and Toad books and But No Elephants. I think the kids all time favorite is Tuesday, very few words in this book but it lets you create the story from the pictures. I am excited about my children being able to read chapter books but also am thrilled when I find them on the floor with a pile of books around them that they have been LOOKING at.

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