A new article in the New York Times, Picture Books No Longer a Staple for Children, suggests that the picture book is slowly going the way of the dinosaur.  According the to article, parents are increasingly encouraging their children, as early as kindergarten, to read "big kid" chapter books in order to help their children in an ever-competitive educational environment.  As a result, bookstores are stocking less picture books and publishers are offering less new picture books each season.

I'm curious if the NYTimes' Julie Bosman has visited her local library recently.  I wish she could stop by our Children's Library here in Darien.  She might be quite surprised at the extraordinary number of parents and caregivers curling up with a picture book in one of the big comfy chairs, or on the carpet, or at the puzzle table, or over a hot chocolate by the Cafe.  Her eyes might well pop when she notices the foot-high stacks of picture books that moms and dads routinely check out for their children (of all ages).  

We Children's Librarians know the power of a great picture book.  Using picture books is  staple in our baby and toddler programs.  But did you know that we also use them in our preschool and elementary-aged storytimes?  

The picture book is a unique work of art.  Combining text, illustration, and design elements, a good picture book does more than simply tell a good story.  Picture books can teach and engage a child's understanding of visual literacy (a skill that this new generation of digital natives will absolutely require to be successful in both academia and professional life.)  

Parents invited to be Mystery Readers in their child's classroom often ask us for read-aloud suggestions.  Whether they are visiting a first-grade class or a fifth-grade class, can you guess what kinds of books we nearly always offer?  We even have a special section in the Children's Library filled with picture books specifically for older students.  These gorgeously illustrated works may look thin, but are full of rich themes, well-developed characters, history, and humor.  Perfect for older children who are reading independently.

Graduating from being a pre-reader to an independent reader doesn't have to mean the end of enjoying books with artwork.  Chapter books and picture books can live happily together on a child's bookshelf.  Whether it's revisiting favorite picture books to read again or discovering a new crop of more sophisticated illustrated reading choices, independent readers will flourish when encouraged to read variety of books.  

Stop by the Children's Library soon with your reader and tell us about some of your favorite picture books and let us help you find some new favorites, too.  

photo courtesy of Flickr user John-Morgan

Comments

Well said Kiera! Picture

Well said Kiera! Picture Books can really help with Comprehension for pre and young readers. The artwork helps to reinforce the narrative and vocabulary in the story as well as create an opportunity for further discussion. I think that is true no matter how old the child is!