I’m blown away by something I read in today’s New York Time (read it here) that states picture books are going out of vogue because parents are encouraging kids to move on to chapter books. How wrong! I have to give a pitch for picture books, because they are very important. They should be fully utilized and should not be skipped over.
My kids are coming out well, and I give a lot of the credit to picture books. We enjoyed endless amount of read aloud time with them over these. Some made us cry, some made us laugh. The shared experience over a huge range of topics was critical in their upbringing. They had expansive exposure to information, language, artwork in a variety of mediums and styles, other cultures and races, various point of views, ways of overcoming challenges, character transformation, and various moral standards. All this while being downright yummy!
Because the pictures bridge connections to the reader’s understanding, more complex content can be shared. Because picture books are intended for an adult to read aloud, the vocabulary is much richer than early readers. Emphasizing reading of picture books to my children as well as them reading them independently, made my kids the strong readers they are today. (They remain interested in all sorts of things, and reading is both a way they entertain themselves as well as a way to learn.) Picture books also made them better people, with honed values, and able to think in more complex ways.
By listening, they learned how to pronounce words and phrase ideas. By seeing the pictures they could understand words or concepts that were beyond them, because there was a context that they could relate to. They effortlessly learned comprehension, something schools seem to struggle to impart these days as they push the chapter book. Picture books should be read for more years, not less, to benefit the growing student!
I have three teens, and the photos here show the picture books still accessible (and referred to!) in our home. They are so important, they still have shelf space. The ones shown here are old friends. Local libraries are filled with acquaintances we’ve entertained: we used to check out picture books by the laundry basketful all through the elementary school years.
Because I desire to stem the tide of a trend going wrong, I plan to feature some of our favorite picture books from time to time on this blog. They are reference points we think of often. We wouldn’t want anyone to miss out on the joy and usefulness of a rampant appetite for this important treasure!
(Note: Some of you have asked what the yellow smiley face stickers on some of these book spines mean. I place those stickers (under clear tape) on book spines with library markings which I buy from library sales to differentiate them from library books that need to be returned. This way, I know they belong to us and not the library.)