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November 18, 2010

Call to Action for Book Lovers!

Posted by Dana

When Regular Contributor Denise Neary feels passionate about something there's no stopping her!  So I'm going to get out of her way here and let you read firsthand what Denise has to say about picture books!

carrotseed.jpgREADING GROUPS UNITE:  help save the picture book!

Have you been following the story about the decline in the sales of picture books?
Various arguments have been advanced about why sales are declining: picture books are considered too basic for the sophisticated child reader, they are too expensive, they are not advancing the needs of kids who will soon be facing standardized tests, etc., etc.
On the cost issue, I bow to the argument advanced by Lisa VonDrasek at EarlyWord Kids:
A week of Starbucks’ Lattes — $24.50
The cost of a Michael Jordan sneaker? — Seriously.
Snuggling with a five-year-old, laughing over John Scieszka’s Truckery Rhymes?
On the too basic issues, my slightly less brilliant response... puh-lease! 
Do I want kids to be smart? Do I want them to read chapter books, to be challenged by what they read?  Of course. Do I think both picture books and chapter books should be in the libraries of young readers?  Yes. Are those ideas inconsistent?   NO.
Did you read picture books to your children?   Can you remember when they were first able to read those books back to you, or to another child?
I am in a book club with a group of incredibly sophisticated teen readers and their Moms----and one of the best side discussions we ever had was when I asked what books they would recommend for a baby basket. Everyone in the group had at least five books to recommend…..most of them could recite most of the words in the books they suggested.
One of the young women in the book was near tears when she realized I had never read The Carrot Seed by Ruth Kraus. (She was completely right about the book….I read it, and it is now a staple in the group of picture books I give as a baby shower gift.)
Each person in our group had picture books that meant the world to them when they first read them, and meant the world to them years later.
The holiday season is upon us…..for those of us lucky enough to be purchasing gifts for children we know, consider the picture book.   If you have the good fortune to make a donation of a holiday gift to children you don’t know, consider the picture book.
You will change the lives of those lucky enough to receive those gifts. 
The picture book is no second-class version of the chapter book.   Read anything by Tomie dePaolo and see if you agree, or try Pilot Pups by Michelle Meadows, or make a note of your favorites right here in the comment section below!
Let’s do our part to save the picture book! 

-- Denise Neary, Regular Contributor