By Pamela Paul for The New York Times
“My kid has outgrown picture books.”
I hear this often when enthusing about a new picture book and offering to pass one along to a friend. It’s the kind of thing parents will say with a certain amount of pride because of what it implies: My child is now reading independently and no longer requires the crutch of pictures. Just as he once relinquished the binky, he has moved on.
I hear this and I think, “Poor kid,” and also, “Poor parent.” Nobody moves on from picture books. At least, nobody should.
While children’s books are, on the whole, often scorned by the literary world as not altogether serious, perhaps no format is treated with the same dismissiveness as picture books. Even board books are respected at the very least as convenient chew toys, and chapter books look enough like novels to constitute a respectable gateway to true literature. But picture books seem like a transitory phase, suitable for a sleepy bedtime read-aloud or the shushed classroom break of story time, but hardly worthy of consideration on their own.
Most picture books are recommended for kids ages 4 to 8. That’s already too narrow. But picture books are tossed out even faster since many schools expect kids to read by the end of kindergarten. Because so many parents like to think of our kids as progressing and developing new skills, we allow picture books to fall away by the time kids are sounding out their Dr. Seuss.
Read more here.
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