Children's Books Falling Victim to Better Education?

I found this interesting, somewhat disheartening article in the NY Times recently. Basically, it says picture books are no longer as popular as they once were and that they are actually on a downward trend. The interesting and honestly, surprising part to me, was that this downward trend is not so much due to videos and other electronic media (though that's part of it), but rather people's belief picture books are too easy to read. Many think kids as young as four should be reading simple chapter books, not ones filled with pictures and little text.

While I am in absolute agreement that in general the U.S. education system is severely lacking in many ways, I can't subscribe to this line of thinking at this point. I believe picture books are a valuable, useful tool well beyond 3 or 4. Those that are done well help readers match words and ideas to visual design. Many are masterful works of art and can encourage the pursuit of drawing, painting and illustrating for many age groups. As an adult, I still love finding an artfully done picture book and if the words are secondary, that's not a bad thing. In addition, picture books can be quite complex requiring the reader to understand word play through pictures or to find hidden meanings or solve puzzles.

To say that the only good option to advance kids' reading skills at the preschool and kindergarten level is through books with minimal pictures is misguided in my opinion. Exposing them to a wide variety of things to read throughout their lives on the other hand can only create a well-rounded reader and hopefully a life-long reader too.

What do you think?

Good Writing & God Bless,
Cheryl Pickett

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