I think my love of all things Barnsy is pretty well established at this point, don't you? I don't know how many times Mr. Mimi has joined me in my beloved Barnsy, gotten separated from me and found me spread out on the floor with a pile of new picture book titles and a gleam in my eye that says, "I'm gearing up to spend heinous amounts of money on these bad boys" as my debit card begins to vibrate with anticipation.
I also think that I speak openly of my addiction to picture books in general, no? I mean, we're talking about a woman who, in her third trimester, waddled around several public libraries tracking down 100 different titles just so that she could blog about them. And fantasize about reading them out loud to Mini Mimi who is one lucky little cookie because, let's face it, Mommy does a mean read aloud.
I think picture books are amazing. A. MAZ. ING.
What would I do without Birdie's Shoes? or The Paperbag Princess or The Other Side or Oink?! or The Dot or Strega Nona or....
Do I really need to go on?
So you can understand how this article in the New York Times felt like a slap in my Barnsy loving face.
Basically, the article talks about how picture books are collecting dust on the shelves of bookstores as more and more parents push their children to read picture books at an earlier and earlier age. Presumably because they are crazed by test scores and some sort of psychotic need to outdo the neighbors kids. Or whatever.
I will now attempt to restrain myself from running to Barnsey and violently shaking any parent of a child who is incapable of doing little more than word call the words on the page of their look-at-what-my-kid-can-do chapter book. Perhaps for their next trick, said child could jump through a flaming hoop...
Okay. (deep breath) It sounds like I'm hating on chapter books, which I'm totally not. Mrs. Mimi loves her some Pinky and Rex, some Junie B. Jones, some Judy Moody...I know I kind of let my review of children's novels fall by the wayside but that really had more to do with the insatiable need of a new mom to read all things breast feeding and sleep scheduling.
What really has my proverbial panties in a knot is that abandoning picture books in favor of chapter books before your child is ready is LUDACRIS! First of all, I'm not totally convinced that all those small fries out there toting around huge awe-inspiring sized volumes can do more than simply say the words on the page. Meaning, helloooooooo, comprehension? Ever heard of it? It's relatively important to, oh I don't know, reading and all, but whatever.
Second of all, shame on everyone who overlooks the beauty of a picture book. Many of the themes handled in these little gems are very sophisticated, lending themselves to interesting book talk and challenging thoughts. Just because a book has chapters, doesn't necessarily mean that it is more difficult in content or in text than a picture book. Ironically, that sort of limited thinking is called "judging a book by it's cover.".
Third, there is nothing quite like the image of a classroom full of children sitting on the rug, staring open mouthed at their teacher as she reads from an enchanting, wonderful, irreplaceable picture book. Nothing! I think that image is more powerful than a ScanTron sheet full of correctly bubbled bubbles. So for the love of all things literate, stop thinking about those freaking tests for just one second, one picture book lengthed second.
In a nutshell, let children be children and let those children love books, no matter how thick or thin they are.