picture, picture

Someday you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again. C.S. Lewis

A few weeks ago, the New York Times ran an article proclaiming the death of picture books. Parents eager to see their children read are evidently pushing chapter books on their kindergardeners. Increased hours of screen time that preschoolers and even toddlers spend each day have also contributed to declining sales of picture books.

My mother discovered this article in our Sunday newspaper while she was visiting us to help with S while F was gone on a long business trip. “How sad!” she declared, a lover of children’s literature and art in every form.

We both scoffed at the idea that picture books no longer had value in a high-tech world. In protest, we visited a local bookstore that afternoon to check out the latest selections of big, glossy pages for S to turn. (Or rip.)

I’m happy to hear that many experts disagreed with the NYT’s claims about the death of picture books. (Check out this great blog for a response from a small bookseller, who writes reviews of new children’s books, including many religious titles.) I can’t imagine a childhood without them.

We all need more poetry and fantasy, art and fiction in our lives. Starting when we are very young and every day thereafter.

his favorite place in the house. and yes, he is sitting on the bed of a wooden truck to read.

Who are your favorite children’s book authors? Whether Sendak or Seuss, we all have a favorite. While I’ve always been a big fan of Tomi dePaola and Eric Carle, I recently discovered one new author and one new illustrator that have become treasures in our house:

Mem Fox, author of Time for Bed and Whoever You Are, which we read with S nearly every day. Both books have poetic rhythms, eye-catching illustrations, and peaceful messages – all “musts” for a children’s book. I am hunting down everything Mem Fox has written (and thus recently discovered that she is the author of Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge, which I love as well!)

Marla Frazee, illustrator of Everywhere Babies and All The World. I remember reading Everywhere Babies with my niece and nephew when they were tiny, and I loved the diversity of families shown cuddling with their babies. (And nursing babies as well!) I discovered All The World in a bookshop this summer and quickly added it to my mental “Christmas gifts for S” list. Her art offers soft and inviting images of loving families of all shapes, sizes, and shades.

And lo and behold, gentle readers, while researching links to these fine artists, I learned that Mem Fox and Marla Frazee have done a book together! Next stop: our local library, for Harriet, You’ll Drive Me Wild!

Excuse me while I take a Sabbath, turn off the computer, and take up a book to read. Fingers crossed, I’m getting old enough to start reading fairy tales again…

3 thoughts on “picture, picture

  1. One of our family’s favorites is “I took the Moon for a Walk” by Carolyn Curtis and beautiful illustrations by Alison Jay. And speaking of picture books, we also love Alison Jay’s “Picture This” – the images are so warm and familiar, and it is amazing how many details in the pictures incorporate bits from children’s nursery rhymes, as well as illustrate the word on the page, and the word coming up on the next page. Such a classic book for babies & toddlers (but even our 3 year old still likes to go back to it from time to time!).

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