This past week, these two article were circulating on the SLIS listserv and I felt inclined to share and discuss.
Picture books are so unpopular these days at the Children’s Book Shop in Brookline, Mass., that employees there are used to placing new copies on the shelves, watching them languish and then returning them to the publisher.
“They’re 4 years old, and their parents are getting them ‘Stuart Little,’ ” said Dara La Porte, the manager of the children’s department at the Politics and Prose bookstore in Washington. “I see children pick up picture books, and then the parents say, ‘You can do better than this, you can do more than this.’ It’s a terrible pressure parents are feeling — that somehow, I shouldn’t let my child have this picture book because she won’t get into Harvard.”
“To some degree, picture books force an analog way of thinking,” said Karen Lotz, the publisher of Candlewick Press in Somerville, Mass. “From picture to picture, as the reader interacts with the book, their imagination is filling in the missing themes.”
“Young adult fiction has been universally the growing genre,” said Ms. Lotz of Candlewick, “and so as retailers adapt to what customers are buying, they are giving more space to that and less space to picture books.”
Jen Haller, the vice president and associate publisher of the Penguin Young Readers Group, said that while some children were progressing to chapter books earlier, they were still reading picture books occasionally. “Picture books have a real comfort element to them,” Ms. Haller said. “It’s not like this door closes and they never go back to picture books again.”
My Stance: on the fence.
I am simply thrilled to read an article about children reading rather than spending countless hours in front of a television playing video games or watching Handy Manny.
Call me cynical and crabby…
However, if you know anything about me, pushy people, but to be more specific, pushy parents and the recently minted phrase, “Tiger Moms“, thoroughly repulse me hence why I felt compelled to share Dara La Porte’s atrocity, “I shouldn’t let my child have this picture book because she won’t get into Harvard.”
The article essentially states that picture books have been on the decline over the years (data from publishers and booksellers can support the statement). Further pondering of that statement left me thinking about my peers, parents, and grandparents…the obvious, picture books were once popular…which always asserts that, perhaps, children who grew up in years previous and who happened to attend schools such as Yale, Harvard, Princeton, and my personal favorite, Dartmouth College, probably, although more than likely (if not almost certainly), enjoyed picture books during their early childhood. /not rocket science
Picture books are not evil.
Haller said, “Picture books have a real comfort element to them…It’s not like this door closes and they never go back to picture books again.”
Positive: I was happy to read about the YA genre expanding in bookstores.
Hats off to teacher/librarian Lynne Sundstrom: “Contrary to the article’s message, picture books are not languishing on the shelves at Birch Lane, but are actually read, loved and read again.”
Sans pictures = just a passing trend…
Touché, Mademoiselle La Porte.