Recently, The New York Times ran an article by Julie Bosman, “Picture Books No Longer a Staple for Children,” which discussed a downturn in picture book sales. Speculation as to the cause mentioned economic hard times, but focused mostly on the pressure parents feel
to advance their children academically, beginning well before kindergarten. Bosman said parents “are mindful of increasingly rigorous standardized testing in schools.” Dara La Porte, manager of the Washington D.C. independent bookstore Politics and Prose, comments on the bizarre connection: “It’s a terrible pressure parents are feeling — that somehow, I shouldn’t let my child have this picture book because she won’t get into Harvard.”
Literacy experts, however, don’t agree with the bypass. Chapter books, Bosman reported, have more text, but don’t necessarily offer a more complex story or vocabulary. “From picture to picture, as readers interact with the book,” Karen Lotz, of Candlewick Press points out, “their imagination is filling in the missing themes.”
Within hours of the NYT article release, more experts in the field chimed in on the value of picture books and decried their supposed “death.”
Picture books offer “the precious chance for the child…to talk about the pictures and how they make him feel; to turn the pages backwards as well as forwards; to get to know the characters through the way they are represented in art as well as the way they are described in words.” -–Tessa Strickland, Founder of Barefoot Books Publishing
Picture books “inspire children not only to find answers but to ask their own questions.” -–Tami Lewis Brown, author of Soar, Elinor!
“What greater gift can we give our children than to open the door to words and pictures? What greater gift than to show them the power and wonder of imagination, which keeps us company in the loneliest and darkest of hours–-and is there for all the good times, too.” -–Holly M. McGhee, President of Pippin Properties
As our first picture book, The Pepperoni Palm Tree, by the father-son team Jason Killiam Meath and Aidan Patrick Meath (age 9), takes shape in pre-production under the skilled hand of illustrator Kirk Parrish, we appreciate how the visual panels enhance and expand the text, allowing for that space in between the words where images and symbols simmer and gestate. Our children need books like these, this space to activate their imaginations and daydreams.
Fuze is excited to reveal a sneak peek at illustrations from The Pepperoni Palm Tree in the weeks ahead — stay tuned!