Don't Forget the Beauty of Picture Books

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I am a self-professed book worm. I always have a book with me where ever I am; currently there is a book on the kitchen table, the end table, in the bathroom, on my bedside table and one waiting for me in the car for languishing in the preschool pickup line. Do you know where my love of books began? Among to pages of pictures books way back when. And it disheartens me to see that parents are forcing their kids to abandon the glorious illustrations and stories for "big kid" chapter books.

There's nothing wrong with a good chapter book. I also have fabulous memories of moving into bigger kid books, reading any and everything I could get my hands on. I was an above-average reader, always testing higher than whatever my current grade level happened to be. But just because I could read above my grade level didn't mean that I didn't absolutely adore looking at and reading through picture books with my parents or by myself.

Cheeks in the SunlightWe have a vast children's library in our home. I believe that the best way to instill a love of reading is to have books around at all times. I may not buy too many toys in between birthdays and holidays, but I always buy books. And while I look forward to the day that my sons and I can read the Harry Potter series together, right now we're reading lots of picture books. From Where The Wild Things Are to lots of books about firefighters to everyone's favorite big red dog to a gorgeous book about the ocean -- we love them all.

The truth is that -- eventually -- they'll be reading chapter books. On their own. Without me. The six shelf bookshelf in one child's room, three three shelf bookshelf in the other child's room and the three shelf bookshelf in our living room that all house kids' books will be filled with books of their choosing. I'll eventually have to get rid of these -- and by get rid of, I do mean "save them for my potential, hypothetical grandchildren." Why should I rush them out of this stage? Sure, maybe they are going to be fantastic readers. But is anyone really too old for a little Curious George? And, really, I don't want to stop reading Chicka Chicka Boom Boom or, our all-time favorite, The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

There's time enough for big kid books. I'm not suggesting that eighteen year old high school seniors shouldn't be expected to make it through their assigned English class readings. But let's let our children enjoy books written and illustrated just for them for awhile, shall we?

Why don't you check out some of these children's book authors and illustrators who also have blogs? Let them convince you to keep the picture books on the shelves for a few more years.

There are many other authors and illustrators of children's picture books online, some of which can be found on twitter. Lastly, if you are at a loss for good picture books, check out this list of 100 picture books everyone should know.

Do you think there's a push to get kids reading chapter books earlier? While you're discussing that, tell us your favorite picture book -- or, you know, your kids favorite one -- so we can all add some more great books to our libraries!


Contributing Editor Jenna Hatfield (@FireMom) blogs at Stop, Drop and Blog and The Chronicles of Munchkin Land. She is a freelance writer and newspaper photographer.

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