Now, according to this New York Time's article, those old fashioned picture books are considered passé by modern parents who want to move their children into "chapter books" as soon as possible. Some of the parents described in the article seem almost embarrassed to have their four-year-old seen reading a picture book when all his friends have moved on to those picture-less chapter books.
Parents have begun pressing their kindergartners and first graders to leave the picture book behind and move on to more text-heavy chapter books. Publishers cite pressures from parents who are mindful of increasingly rigorous standardized testing in schools.[...]
“Parents are saying, ‘My kid doesn’t need books with pictures anymore,’ ” said Justin Chanda, the publisher of Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. “There’s a real push with parents and schools to have kids start reading big-kid books earlier. We’ve accelerated the graduation rate out of picture books.”
Literacy experts are quick to say that picture books are not for dummies. Publishers praise the picture book for the particular way it can develop a child’s critical thinking skills.[...]
“To some degree, picture books force an analog way of thinking,” said Karen Lotz, the publisher of Candlewick Press in Somerville, Mass. “From picture to picture, as the reader interacts with the book, their imagination is filling in the missing themes.”
Many parents overlook the fact that chapter books, even though they have more text, full paragraphs and fewer pictures, are not necessarily more complex.
Still, many publishers have gradually reduced the number of picture books they produce for a market that had seen a glut of them, and in an age when very young children, like everyone else, have more options, a lot of them digital, to fill their entertainment hours.Do read the whole article for a more complete feel for how this trend is impacting parents and their children. I am no reading expert, and do not claim to be one, but the idea that picture books are being yanked from the hands of struggling young readers before they are ready to move on to something more difficult seems completely wrongheaded to me. Child readers, especially those to whom reading does not come easily, need to feel good about their reading experiences. If they are to become lifelong readers they need to gain some pleasure from the experience, not see reading as a chore or challenge that has to be overcome.
The problem, in my opinion, is overreaching parents, those who realize they cannot have a redo of their own lives and opt for the next best thing: pushing their children harder than they were pushed at the same age. Picture books seem to be a critical part of the reading experience. I suspect that children know when it is time to move from picture books to chapter books - even if their parents do not quite get it anymore.