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Picture Books: Dead or Must-Read?

A few years ago, The New York Times ran an article about the demise of the picture book.  The article put forth that bookstores were seeing parents move away from picture books and toward chapter books for their young children.  Ironically enough, that same year, posted the “50 Books Your Child Should Read Before Kindergarten”.   Nearly every book listed was either a picture book or an early reader. (  If you do an online search for “Best Picture Books,” you’ll get list after list of titles to share with your child.

So…which is it?  Should you give away Goodnight Moon?  Hide The Very Hungry Caterpillar?  Quit reading Curious George?  Of course not!  Picture books are wonderful for children of all ages!  Parents are surprised when I tell them that many picture books contain sophisticated vocabulary and intricate sentence structure.   When I taught 5th grade, I would use Cynthia Rylant’s The Relatives Came to teach memoir writing.  Many picture books are actually written on a fifth-grade level.  Beyond the educational value of picture books, there is, of course, the emotional value.  Picture books are read over and over again (haven’t we all memorized at least one board book from having read it so often to our own children?).   The same isn’t necessarily true of chapter books, Harry Potter notwithstanding!   As parents, when we help foster that emotional connection between a book and a child, we are teaching that reading is special and that it has importance.  Raise a child who loves being read to, and you will raise a child who will want to learn to read, even if it’s difficult.

Our children grow up all too fast, and there are more picture books of value than there are naps to read before.   Whether you have a kid who loves to laugh or you want to banish nightmares, whether your child is obsessed with planets or interested in animals, whether your house is filled with fairies or littered with Legos, there are picture books to please.  Walk through our picture book shelves and really look:  those books are filled with exquisite art and beautiful prose.  Ask us; we’re happy to share our favorites with you!

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