The Importance of Picture Books

There was a piece in the NY Times in January 2011, about the importance of picture books as a foundation for literacy. Publishers and retailers are finding a movement away from picture books and into chapter books at a much earlier age than in years past. There are some drawbacks to this, since literacy experts point out that picture books serve a vital function in developing a child’s critical thinking skills. Think About It!  Read the full article here 

 EXCERPT NYT ARTICLE:  “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.”

‘Literacy experts are quick to say that picture books are not for dummies. Publishers praise the picture book for the particular way it can develop a child’s critical thinking skills.’  

‘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.’

‘Many parents overlook the fact that chapter books, even though they have more text, full paragraphs and fewer pictures, are not necessarily more complex.’

“Some of the vocabulary in a picture book is much more challenging than in a chapter book,” said Kris Vreeland, a book buyer for Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena, Calif., where sales of picture books have been down. “The words themselves, and the concepts, can be very sophisticated in a picture book.”  END EXCERPT