Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers. ~Charles W. Eliot

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Why blog?

Earlier this month, the New York Times, in a rare move, dedicated part of its front page - incredibly valuable real estate - to children's books ( Naturally, given my professional life, I read the article with great excitement and interest. Wow! What a disappointment! I can best sum up the article as a missed opportunity. Rather than speak to the incredible contributions picture books have made to literature or the key role picture books play in a person's (and not just a little person's) creative and cognitive development, the article premised that picture books are "languishing". Pushy, competitive parents were blamed for this tragedy. I don't even want to go there. I think the several hundred comments posted in reaction to this article covered it admirably. Reflections on all aspects of this article were posted. One of my favorite responses was written by the amazing Lisa Von Drasek, the children's librarian/book reviewer at the Bank Street College of Education. Check her comments out at

My preference is to lament the missed opportunity because, after all, the front page of the New York Times can and should be used to raise awareness and move the needle on issues that matter and this was merely an article that noted declining sales. Parents could have been reminded of what librarians and many teachers already know - picture books are not just for those who can't read. Seriously, have you read Lane Smith's, It's a Book or Lemony Snicket's 13 Words or Peter Brown's Children Make Terrible Pets or Mo Willems Pigeon books or pretty much anything by Jon Scieszka?  I love these books and so do my kids, even though they've been reading chapter books for years! These books are fantastic and they are brilliant because they can be appreciated by anyone at any age but their brilliance is most apparent to and they are most deliciously devoured by those with some level of sophistication - sophistication that was cultivated early on for most of us with great picture books. They are books that can be enjoyed by a family ... together. Indeed, they are the stuff that family memories are made of. My kids, like so many, love to hear stories about when they were little. In response to that request this afternoon by one of my 6th grade daughters (I have 2), I asked if she remembered the time she and her sisters acted out every story in Jon Scieszka's Squids Will be Squids as their bedtime story. She remembered it gleefully and asked if we could do that again tonight.

I'm blogging because when my worlds collide, like they did when I read the New York Times article, I tend to have a lot to say. I am in the fortunate position of adoring my family and loving my work and appreciating how each enhances, supports and benefits from the other. I hope to be able to share those benefits with anyone who chooses to follow this blog.  My kids insist that I talk too much so I immediately rejected any possibility of tweeting my thoughts. Blogging seems to suit me fine. The only thing limiting how much I write now is the time because bedtime is approaching and we have several scenes of Squids Will be Squids to act out as a family tonight. Long live the picture book!

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