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An argument for picture books

April 21, 2011 | Scott | Comments (0)

If you heard the sound of librarians’ jaws hit the floor across the continent last October, here’s why.

The New York Times published an article called ‘Picture Books No Longer a Staple for Children’ that discussed how picture books are languishing on bookstore shelves and how parents are insisting their children bypass the book category entirely in order to begin reading “real” books. I cringe when anyone pulls out the argument for “real” books. Yes, my friends, we may have a problem here.

I’ve had the pleasure in leading Family Storytime (an all-ages program on Saturday mornings at 11am with songs and usually three to four picture book readings) at Cedarbrae twice and have experienced first-hand the joy and captivation that picture books can offer young readers. The stories are simple but meaningful and the artwork, colourful and appealing. There’s no denying that kids love them.

In fact, in response to the New York Times article, a U.S. school delivered a letter to the editor in the form of a 15-foot long scroll signed by the students. The letter deemed picture books “essential to the development of lifelong readers and learners.” I wholeheartedly agree.

As much as we’re taught that picture books are only for pre- or beginning readers, they can be enjoyed by everyone. Cedarbrae has an incredible collection of Advanced Picture Books. These books have complex stories, intricate artwork and explore challenging concepts, issues and themes, often in ways that creates an interactive reading experience.

Here’s a selection of my favourites:

The Extinct Files by Wallace Edwards – structured like a science fair project, Edwards explores the idea that dinosaurs exist in our world today, but they just hide really well

The Wolves in the Walls by Neil Gaiman & Dave McKean – probably one of the most frightening picture books I’ve ever read. If you like creepy, spooky stories, this one’s for you.

The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka & Lane Smith – watch this pair make fun of every fairy tale and nursery rhyme you’ve ever read. I promise you'll laugh out loud at the off-the-wall humour.

Extinctfiles Wolves Stinky
 


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