The picture book, once a mainstay of children’s literature, has been fading, according to New York Times. While it is not disappearing for good, publishers in the United States have scaled back the number of titles they have released in the last few years, and booksellers nationwide notice falling sales.
Apart from the economic downturn, many in the industry see an additional reason for the slump. Parents, mindful of increasingly rigorous standardized testing in schools, have begun pressing their children to move on to text-heavy chapter books.
Meanwhile, literacy experts are quick to point out that picture books are not for dummies, praising them for their particular ability to nurture a child’s critical thinking skills. Moreover, they argue that chapter books are not necessarily more complex. “The words themselves, and the concepts, can be very sophisticated in a picture book.”
Jen Haller, the vice president and associate publisher of the Penguin Young Readers Group, said that while some children were progressing to chapter books earlier, they were still reading picture books occasionally. “Picture books have a real comfort element to them,” Ms. Haller said. “It’s not like this door closes and they never go back to picture books again.”