Another day, another New York Times story that you wish wasn’t true. And yet, it seems pretty solid: The sale of picture books for kids in going down, and the reasons range from the fact that they’re high priced (which makes some sense) to the idea that kids should be reading chapter books sooner rather than later (which makes no sense at all).
The article, by Julie Bosman, quotes authors, book stores and publishers, all of whom concur: the picture book is fading. While kids still read Seuss, they’re off to Steinbeck sooner rather than later, in part because their parents don’t want them piddling around with pictures. The parents want them doing “real” reading.
Except that…picture books ARE real reading. I was talking with Gever Tulley the other day — yes, the founder of The Tinkering School — and he said that kids who read non-fiction comic books tend to remember the facts and stories better because of the leap their minds make between the panels. Having to create the connection from one picture to the next engages the brain and cements the lesson better than just plain ol’ reading. So take THAT, pushy parents who want their kids diving into Stendahl instead of Stinky Cheese Man.
Pretty much any book that engages a child is a book worth reading. It gets kids into the groove. It must be turning on their brains, or they’d put it down. And if the kids are reading picture books even into their double digit years, well, ’tis better to read than to not read. My 12-year-old reads Peanuts like the bible — it is his joy in life, his comfort, his compass. To yank that away and say, “Time for ‘Crime & Punishment, kid,” would BE a crime and a punishment.
Picture books: good. Chapter books: good. Reading: good. Simple as that. — Lenore