Throw out a life buoy and reel them back in I say. The importance of picture books can not be ever underestimated, in my estimation and that's not just because I love to write them and read them still.
The facts in both may be the same but the way it resonates with them is completely different. Fiction and namely that found in picture books, should therefore not be regarded as frivolous or secondary or beneath us in value. It should be prized and cherished.
- They are a beautiful expression of Art and Literature in one neat little package.
- Kids love Art. What young person do you know who doesn't like to scribble, sketch, colour, design or make things?
- The illustrations in a book help guide the reader through the story, they give clues sometimes not always shared in the text. They entertain and charm. They add depth and texture to the words.
- Chapter Books are not always necessarily more complex than picture books. PBs are often written on a higher literary level to challenge understanding and introduce new vocabulary.
- Language is enhanced in PBs. They allow children to hear and feel new sentence structures. Rhythm and Rhyme are explored. Words can sound like music when read out loud. A good PB, even a non rhyming one, can be poetry in motion.
- Picture books can deliver an huge array of themes, emotions, ideas and relationships for children in an entertaining, non didactic way. Relationships such as cause and consequence may be better understood and discussed when viewed time and time again in a PB.
- PB allow children the luxury of Repetition: of story, comedy, and meta language.
- PBs are sensory. Children can hear, see, feel, smell the story. They can develop a strong sense of story structure, time and place from PBs
- PBs are FUN. They are a perfect vehicle for allowing children of all ages to enjoy the pleasure of reading without the feeling of being burdened by the 'must do' mentality which is often associated (pityingly) with reading.
- PBs allow for the most intimate and interactive relationships imaginable between an adult and a child. The sharing of these reading experiences builds comprehension, trust and a sense of achievement which are key to ensuring children enjoy smooth sailing through their sea of literacy.
Of course encouraging reluctant readers to read the jokes on your cereal packets is no bad thing either. Whatever they read will ultimately help them to Champion Literacy.