why I won’t abandon the picture book even though my kids think we should

Our ten-year-old has become known for devouring thick books, but he has very definite ideas about what he likes to read. He’s recently made it though the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series and has moved on to Heroes of Olympus. A few weeks ago he was a bit agitated when he was out of said reading material and still had one more day to go before his next library visit at school. His affection for 500-plus page tomes sometimes leaks out as scorn for picture books, a sentiment that his younger brother has picked up on. Not to be left behind, our seven-year-old has also expressed a preference for chapter books. Trouble is, he can’t read too many of those himself.

So, I’ve been adding more chapters to our read-aloud times. I insist the older boy put down his other book when I’m reading a chapter book aloud. He’s been known to express his displeasure about this, but he is often drawn into the story more than he’d like to admit. We recently finished reading Caddie Woodlawn together and both of the boys have brought up topics from it for discussion later. My younger son even retold the Pee Wee story from the book at a recent family story time. (His dad and and an aunt who was here hadn’t heard it before.)

But I’m not ready to give up picture books, so I still scan the shelves at the Rice Street Library during most of our visits. Sometimes I even find a book that pulls both boys in. Last week, I was reading The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors by Drew Daywalt aloud to my seven-year-old, and about half way through, the ten-year-old joined us. He’d been listening, I could tell, because there was no request to turn back or start over. Both boys had had their imagination captured as we read this story set in an “ancient and distant kingdom” in which three great warriors each sought “a worthy challenge” and hoped to prove themselves in “the glory of battle.”

I considered it a victory for the picture book, a subtle reminder of the power of a good story to engage, amuse and provide fodder for conversation.



6 thoughts on “why I won’t abandon the picture book even though my kids think we should

  1. I still love picture books myself!!! Now I’ll need to go to the library for the book about Rock, Paper Scissors!

    • You should. It’s aimed at the 5- to 8-year-old crowd, but it’s got some humor that’s not lost on grown ups – like the commentary on dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets.

  2. I tell the students that is why they call it everybody easy. If you are looking at Lexile levels, the Terrible No-good Very Bad Day has a higher Lexile level than Brian’s Winter by Gary Paulson.

  3. I think some picture books are written more for middle school age than early readers…Chris VanAllsburg is one of those whose stories are not for kindergarteners. This past year I have been reading a lot of picture book biographies, really they could be for any age.

    • That is true – and those books for more mature readers are the kind I’ve been keeping my eye out for more and more. Though it’s also nice to get some that Caleb can read for himself now.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s