Well at least I believe so!
photo credit: Pinkpollyanna
I was surprised to see the link in the NYTimes over the weekend Picture Books No Longer a Staple for Children
We love picture books here and I can’t imagine forgoing picture books and substituting them with chapter books.
I wonder if though if it’s something to do with who chooses the books that the children read. When I go to the library to get books I’m drawn to the picture book section. There are many ways that we choose our books. Sometimes I choose them all while they are at school but more often they come with me and we choose together. I love to find books with an aim and purpose in mind. It’s not often that I go to the library or bookshop with a totally open mind.
Recently I have been on a quest to find books where my boys will see themselves represented as brown-skinned boys in a positive light. During the summer I was looking for books based on stories from around the world. Next month I want to find some art books.
However when my husband goes to the bookshop or library he is drawn to the cartoon section, authors that I don’t know, chapter books and magazines. We have widely differing tastes in books. Luckily for the children they get to experience both our styles. If I or my husband solely choose the books I know the kids would have had a strong leaning to a type of book. We can’t help that. I don’t think that’s uncommon an approach.
Now we have the book shops layout themselves. I’ve always been disappointed with the shelf space devoted to hardback picture books in the two book shops that were local to me in the States; Barnes and Noble and Borders. Both seemed to have lots of space devoted to hardbacks that make us parents weep. Not just the cost but the dust jacket is easy to rip with little fingers. Hardback books just don’t stand up to the hardcore love that preschoolers inflict. Well certainly not in our home. I really didn’t want the books to be so special that they can’t be handled but the kids did need to treat them well. Skating on them was really a no-no activity even though they make excellent skis.
I preferred paperback or board book picture books. I can buy another copy. We’re on our third copy of The Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. The kids can handle them without the spine popping or pages coming adrift. At least that has been our experience. A well handled book is a well loved book.
So here is the dilemma!
There are hardly any paperback books on the shelf for me to browse and buy but there are heaps of hardbacks. I’ll walk by these then. I happily support my local library where they have many paperbacks and covered in plastic. It works for us. I have noticed in Waterstones that there are more paperbacks to view than I was used to in the States but these are just based on three local shops and not really representative of the countries . How is it where you live?
If you’re a family on a budget. You’re offered more hardbacks than paperbacks, a lot more in a book store. You’re hearing from school that they need to be reading more or more fluent it might be easier to take a stroll over to the chapter books.
I don’t know the solution. I know we love our picture books and will continue to buy both paperback and the occasional hardback book. We listen to stories as well via the computer or an audio CD, more so recently. We have chapter books but are mindful that the chapter book doesn’t become the be all and end all of reading. We have a lot of discussion around picture books and that skill I would not give up for all the chapter books in the world.