Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Feeling the bookrage!

I get this listserv email from Kathy's blog about Illustrating and Writing for children. It's kind of lovely, with tips and bits on writing, publishing, ups and downs, and once I even saw blogger Shannon Messenger featured on it--about how she got an agent. It's worth signing up for.

However, today, I opened it up, and what article is featured in it today? This, about the sad, slow death of picture books.

This is kind of depressing to me--first of all, if you read the article, that some parents are pushing their kids to read and not allowing them to look at picture books. All for the sake of learning? Pshaw. Pshaw, I say again! Why, what's wrong with instilling a love of reading first? And what are we saying when we insinuate at a very young age that only pushing kids to read books at higher reading levels will bring knowledge? If you haven't read this article yet, check out this quote from it:

“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.”

Some of my favorite books are children's: middle grade, young adult and picture books. Last Christmas, my Mom picked up a gem I found, which I got wrapped under the tree--Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree. Let me tell you, this book has it all--cute photos, clever rhyming text, an ironic twist! I encourage you all to check it out.

In fact, I encourage you all to post and share some of your favorites--new or old--that are picture books.

So for the rest of the month, on Tuesdays, I'm going to share classic picture books and authors. And I do hope you all go out and hunt them down. Even for yourself--I know I still do.

On an unrelated side note, be sure to sign up for my Blogfest: Retold! It should, hopefully, be a fantastic time.


Shannon Whitney Messenger said...

Aw, thanks for the shout out (and weird--I had no idea I was featured in there. Well...I don't think I did. I am tired today...)

And I love this idea. As you know, I'm on a Middle Grade Crusade, because it's so underrepresented in the blogosphere. But PBs get even less face time. Go you for shining the light on them! :)

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I do NOT believe that PB's are dying. I agree with you that some of the best books out there are picture books: Pink & Say, Shin's Tricycle, Faithful Elephants, Math Curse, Double Trouble in Walla Walla... I'm glad you are going to showcase them!! :-)

Amy said...

How sad! My kids and I love picture books! Also, as a former elementary school teacher, I know how very important picture books are to helping beginning readers learn to read. Pictures book are an important stepping stone into higher level reading and should continue to be read purely for enjoyment.

Donna Hole said...

There's this awesome cardboard picture book called THE CURIOUS LITTLE KITTEN that I read to my Bug, and the grandkids. The Bug is 12 and I think he still looks at it sometimes. It has fabulous pictures, and a little trail to follow with your finger, and the cutest, funnest story to go with it.

Maybe its just me that can't give it up, but I'm glad my granddaughters like to pack it around when they visit. We have so much fun with that book.

Can't remember another right now, but I had several just picture books that my kids and I made up stories to go along with the pictures. That was fun - and creative.

I think teaching kids to believe in something that isn't there, or allowing them to work out their own visions is just as important as learning written words.

I agree about letting the pressure off sometimes. Kids need to dream a little. How else will they know what THEY want to become as they grow?

A really excellent topic Sarah. I'm glad it moved you, and you shared that insight with us. I can't wait to see your showcase books.


Amalia T. said...

hmm. hmm. hmm. what is with all the hard questions lately? uhm. what is one of my favorite picture books--let me think.

I used to absolutely love The Forgetful Bears, and Clifford the Big Red Dog books. And of course, today, my favorite picture books are comics ;) which I know is not exactly the same, but it's not exactly different, either!

I don't understand why kids should be dissuaded from reading picture books. One of the things that I loved as a kid was when my dad read to me from picture books as a kid. We used to have a great time with them, and LOVING reading will naturally lend itself to moving up to higher reading levels when the times is ripe! Forcing the issue is only going to turn kids off, I think :(

Elaine AM Smith said...

I adored Janet and Allan Ahlberg's picture books - wordy and beautifully illustrated.
The best books for the youngest readers are wordless - they the children learn HOW books work.
The HLandS Blogfest entry
Caught you out!
There are no vampire's or werewolves or zombies - nothing feathered or furred (except in totally human ways :) )

Just Another Sarah said...

Shannon M: Oh, that is strange! I'm sure it was there, though.

Yes--I am glad of your MG crusade! And I think you gave me a few titles I haven't read yet! :)

Shannon O: It's true, that this is one opinion. To be taken with a grain of salt. But still! Shocking to think that some people refrain their children from reading such titles. I'm excited to share them, too...and I'm excited to read some of the ones you've just mentioned, as they are new to me!

Amy: Hi! Amen. :) I know your kids are going to get their share of picture books--and I'm sure they're going to love them!

Donna: I think I read that book when I was little! How awesome that it has made its rounds through your household! :) Yay, picture books!

Amalia: I don't know! Hahaha! I think you raise an excellent point--comic books are a good example of imagination, art and story all working together. Not necessarily, though sometimes, for children...they're picture books aimed for the more mature. And are just as necessary. I loved my Archie comics. And I used to know answers on Jeopardy because of what I learned from them. My parents felt it was proof and reason enough that I was benefiting from them!

Elaine: No! I am totally wondering what's going on in your story, then!

And, I'll have to check out that book, too. I totally agree...these books teach kids how to read, how to imagine, how to dream, in ways they can get.

Just Another Sarah said...

Oops--Shannon--I did make a mistake...I saw you featured on this blog, and I get emails from both places. Still, it was a lovely interview!