My Mission Statement

I write to serve, to unite, to educate. I write to share literature and flesh out ideas that may be of interest to others. I write to document an emotion, experience, or a blip in time. My mission is to write in such a way that the reader is reminded that we can find humor in all situations. It's one of the great blessings of life.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

If children don't spend sufficient time with picture books, something is lost.

I continue on my quest to read a bunch of chapter books (even as my manuscript becomes more and more middle grade, oh, well), and I just have to share one with you this morning. Last night I read SEEING SKY-BLUE PINK by Candice Ransom in one sitting. It is a precious story about an eight-year-old girl whose mother remarries. They go to live on a farm with her new stepfather. The stepfather character is a strong, patient, loving man (I was ready to marry him myself by the end) who gives our sweet protagonist all the time she needs to adjust to her new life outside the city. So many books in this genre are series books or silly books, and that's great, it's what a lot of kids want, BUT this book is gentle and serious and full of heart. I just loved it, and I think many children would, too. Check it out!

I don't know how many of you have been following the debate about the very depressing New York Times article about the decline of picture books. I've been delighted with the dialogue it has opened up. In a nutshell, much of the debate is around the fact (asserts the original article) that parents are pushing their kids up to chapter books almost right away and not hanging around to enjoy picture books. As a result, the picture book industry is suffering. The book industry is simply seeing the results of this whole generation of parents who constantly push, push, push their children to the next level.

But here's the thing they miss: picture books are not all about the word count. Picture books are an art form. Picture books are the purest example of story. Children need to enjoy such stories in the warm and loving lap of a parent, in circle time in a classroom, and then as individuals. Picture books teach children to love reading. They introduce children to lots of setting, characters who have problems and then find solutions. Over and over again, children read these stories and their minds absorb the structure and framework of story. This foundation is IMPORTANT and if sufficient time is not spent in picture books, something is lost. Reading should be full of joyous discovery, not "This one is too easy for you" or "Those nonsense words won't do you any good later." Early on, we have an important window to help children fall in love with reading. For many children, that translates into reading favorites over and over, reading books that are easy for them, and trying many different types of stories to find the perfect ones. It only takes ONE book for a child to fall in love with reading. Give them lots of time to find it.

Oh, and in the case of children's lit for older readers, the book award nominees were announced yesterday (by Pat Conroy), and they are as follows:
SHIP BREAKER by Paolo Bacigalupi
MOCKINGBIRD by Kathryn Erskine
DARK WATER by Laura McNeal
LOCKDOWN by Walter Dean Myers
ONE CRAZY SUMMER by Rita Williams-Garcia
I hope I spelled all the authors correctly. I jotted them down quickly to share with you. Look for me to blog about them with more specifics soon! Have a great week.

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