Picture Books – Are They dead? Dying?

by Phillip Chipping

I read a couple of articles recently that said, in effect, picture books are dying.

I found it interesting, because, in my estimation, what’s really been dying over the past couple of decades is read-aloud stories. Picture books seem to be alive and well! Book stores are filled to the top with picture books. Yes, the actual sales numbers might be declining year over year, but when compared to read-aloud stories, I think picture books are doing quite well.

Why is that?

I think it comes down to one thing. Entertainment. Picture books entertain the child faster and easier. It’s not that read-aloud stories don’t entertain children, but it takes more effort and more work to be entertained by a read-aloud story. The child actually has to focus and listen to the words to try to form an image in his head.

Now I’m not against picture books! Not in the least. I think picture books are a wonderful thing. It’s just that, having worked on knowonder! stories for a couple of years now, and having spent a lot of time reading out loud to my own children, I have begun to see some stark differences. And I have noticed that the publishing world, by and large, are not publishing read-aloud stories anymore.

Unless you count chapter books. But chapter books are not ideal for younger children because the storylines are too drawn out. The short story for children has become something much more rare.

Or am I wrong? Am I missing valuable read-aloud resources? Especially high-quality read aloud story resources?

What are your thoughts and feelings about picture books. Are they dying? Are they being used less? Or more? And is their use beneficial? Or is it hindering the learning and teaching of literacy to young children?

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