The Book Chat Collective: Picture Books



Cover of "The Tiger Who Came to Tea"

Cover of The Tiger Who Came to Tea

Yay the book chat collective is back. I love this meme.

This month’s topic is picture books. According to this New York Times article parents are no longer buying picture books for their children because they want their children reading in order to pass tests. I must admit I hate this idea, on an intellectual and a personal level. For one thing it presumes that picture books have basic language, that you can’t ever learn new words, or how to read from a picture book. Just for one example the Beatrick Potter books contain a lot of language which is quite difficult, or unusual. In fact for some of the younger children the language may be a bit too difficult unless an adult is explaining as they go. I hate his presumption. I have never seen pictures as making a book ‘easy’. Earlier picture books could maybe be told just from the pictures but in most books the pictures just support the words- the story couldn’t be told with just the words. For picture books for older children just looking at the pictures would even make a boring story, at least in my opinion. Then there are the books where the pictures are part of the story, Jacqueline Wilson’s books immediately spring to mid here, in particular Double Act and The Story of Tracy Beaker, both of which were favourites of mine around the age of 9.

As a nursery worker I can also tell you that kids do pay attention to the words in the books, running their fingers along as they make up a story for example.

On a more personal level I believe my love of books started with the picture books my Mum read me. I can still remember the stories now- and I mean the stories as much as the pictures. The Tiger Who Came to Tea, when the tiger eats all the food in the house and drinks all the water in the tap. The Alfie and Annie Rose stories. I always loved the one where Alfie got in first and all the people in the street came to help because he’s locked himself in. And there was one where he fed all the bears on his bowl breakfast, I used to copy that. And the one where he took his blanket to a party and got it covered with jelly and cake.

Then there’s my very favourite books when I was little, the Pippo books. I loved these books so much that I had to get one for my niece. I was really disappointed to find they were no longer being published, but I managed to get one off ebay, and they’re still great. I love the way that so much that Tom feels comes through Pippo. “Pippo wanted some cheese…but I ate it”


Filed under Musings

2 responses to “The Book Chat Collective: Picture Books

  1. I’m so glad to know that even early childhood educators feel the same way! I’m finding this whole trend to be disheartening. Of course, we want our children to be strong and capable readers, but I don’t think these parents are really thinking about how reading, language, creativity, the abilities to infer and conclude and all of these elements of reading come into play. It’s very complex and not just about reading words on a page. My son was test. He’s seven. In isolation, he can read words on the word list for 6th grade, but he cannot comprehend on a 6th grade level. It’s not just about reading words!


  2. lucybirdbooks


    I can get the logic is thinking it is better for learning to just read without the pictures but it doesn’t work that way. I think there’s a bit of forcefulness in it too which doesn’t really foster love of books


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