Ambitious parents of very young children are, according to New York Times story, depriving their children of the pleasure of picture books in favor of more challenging “chapter books,” in an attempt to help them succeed in school. As Maureen Mullarkey writes in Bye Bye Picture Books ,
Very likely, these are the parents whose little ones suffer audition for nursery school. (The article quotes from book sellers in Brookline, MA and Washington, D.C.) Oddly, they are also the ones who wheel their tots though museums on Sunday afternoon and sign them up for picture-based projects like the Metropolitans Museum Kids program. They lobby schools to expand the art syllabus in schools; they howl at cuts in the art curriculum. . . .
So, a picture is worth a thousand words but getting into St. Davids is worth more?
The two offer different, but equally important, experiences, as Maureen points out, and “privileging” one over the other is foolish. It is particularly unwise, I think, to implicitly stigmatize a child’s natural pleasures, like the pleasure of looking at pictures. He is open to such things and to the good things they convey and represent, but this openness you can subdue or, with enough effort, kill.
The easy solution is to look at picture books with your children and read chapter books to them, till they move on to chapter books on their own.