I can't do it. I can't just stay quiet and say nothing about the New York Times article
. I write and read and breathe picture books and that article made me so sad. You can go here
to see excellent rebuttals and counterpoints to the article itself. And another one here
I just came across.
Personally, I believe in picture books for many, many reasons- and a lot of them are mentioned in those posts, so I won't duplicate here. But I also think picture books are an excellent resource for teaching writing and I don't think I saw that addressed anywhere so I wanted to mention it. When I read picture books to my kids, we talk about the story arc, the plot and the characterizations. We discuss what the text says, and what it doesn't say and leaves for the illustrator to say. We discuss how the story is told, the tone, the setting. We don't necessarily use the terminology because our reading time isn't school and I'm not teaching them writing. But they are absorbing all of the components of writing and how to do it well and they don't even know it. And it will show up in their own writing and they will be better writers for it.
At school visits, I go further. I do use the terminology and talk about the specific traits of writing: foreshadowing, onomatopoeia, rhyme, alliteration, word choice, organization of thoughts, etc, and I show them concrete examples from picture books. When I do it, you can actually see little light bulbs go on over their heads! It is so much easier to see and understand these concepts in the 32 pages of a picture book. Older elementary and middle schoolers connect
to picture books- they are actually my favorite audience to read to! By denying older children the chance to read and study picture books, we are doing them a great disservice. So I'm going to continue to do my part- reading and writing and teaching picture books- and I hope you'll do the same.