I love picture books. I have seen many children fall in love with reading because of fabulously crafted picture books.
So I was a little horrified to see this headline on the NY Times over the weekend…
The article goes on to discuss the fact that US publishers are commissioning and printing fewer picture books in response to falling sales which are blamed on the recent economic downturn (which is understandable) and … the fact that parents are instead buying young children predominately text based chapter books (mini novels). For children in kindergarten and first grade no less!
Picture books have so much to offer children. Prose which invites the reader into the story through fewer words helps children learn to comprehend, to form connections between the pictures and the words about the meaning being created, comprehension which is vital to learning to meaning making when independently.
Don’t say the old lady screamed- bring her on and let her scream.– Mark Twain
The language of quality picture books is rich and carefully constructed…
I never spent less than two years on the text of one of my picture books, even though each of them is approximately 380 words long. Only when the text is finished … do I begin the pictures.– Maurice Sendak (author of Where the Wild Things Are)
Picture books are filled with characters who amuse or evoke emotion which captivates children and introduces them to new themes, new places and new ideas, making language learning friendly and fun. Like a “spunky, hanky-panky, cranky, stinky, dinky, lanky, honky-tonky, winky, wonky donkey” (The Wonky Donkey, Craig Smith, 2009).
The illustrations of good picture books captivate children… and adults. We recently borrowed Duck on a Bike (David Shannon) from our local library and I fell in love with it (luckily Immy enjoyed it too!). The humour was so cleverly articulated through the text but would have been nothing without the splendid illustrations. Needless to say, I am buying a copy of this one!
I really hope that this article is wrong, that picture books are not going out of fashion as it truly would be a great loss in the lives of our children. Personally, I often can’t help myself buying picture books – for Immy and as birthday and baby shower gifts especially. In fact, shortly before I stumbled upon the NY Times article I had just asked the following question on Facebook as I was trolling Amazon to take advantage of the excellent Aus/US exchange rate!
What picture books has your child (or you!) most recently enjoyed? Do you buy picture books? What do you look for in a quality picture book?
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