New York Times: Picture Books No Longer a Staple for Children
Sigh. Wait... SIGH. REALLY LOUDLY.
I don't write picture books, but I do teach young children. I spend a lot of time talking to parents about books that are "just-right" for their children, and trying to slow the rush into chapter books for my first graders.
Now... I do read chapter books to my class, as read alouds. With much discussion. Review. Vocabulary building. But my kiddies, even my brightest ones, can gain bad reading habits by jumping too quickly into chapter books. They learn to decode but they lack comprehension even though they can pronounce the words. Developmentally, most little guys cannot remember an entire chapter book-length story. When asked to discuss or retell their stories (book closed) right after they read, they only tell me what happened at the end, because they are unable to accumulate all that text. Then they begin to do this even in shorter, more simple stories, because it has become a bad habit. :(
The definition that many first grade teachers use of reading is "making meaning of text". If our kids are not making meaning, or comprehending, they are not really reading. They are spitting out words. They miss the critical thinking skills built with picture books. And man, are they missing some good stories.
Besides, what's the rush? I always tell both the kids and the parents that all of them will be reading beginning chapter books (think Henry and Mudge, Poppleton, Frog and Toad) by the end of first grade/beginning of second grade, so let's take the time to lay the foundation and we'll get there. Chapter books aren't going anywhere. :)
But there is more here than just my rant on "just right" reading. I am a lover of picture books. There is SUCH BEAUTY in picture books! The idea that they are becoming less valued is incredibly sad to me, but on the upside, I get to fill my kiddies' days with them. As a celebration of picture books, here are some of my absolute favorites:
Oh. I could go on and on. These books are like my little best friends. Thank goodness I get to share them with my own kids and my first graders, along with many, many more wonderful reads.
Do you have a soft spot for picture books? What are your favorites?