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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Picture This!

I missed the boat when it came to responding to THE article published by the New York Times which pointed to the demise of the picture book. The article, Picture Books No Longer a Staple,  created outrage in circle I run in – librarians, writers and children were flummoxed by the assertions. Bloggers wrote rebuttals, listservs buzzed, the first thing said when I met other librarians was “Did you see the article?”

Frankly, I had trouble keeping up with the pace of the responses. I sometimes have the tendency to wait until I’m up to date reading the comments of others before making my own response. I don’t want to say what someone has already said, usually with more panache than I would. This has been a recurring theme for me this year. One I hope to correct in 2011.

Not only that, I’m still trying to process what I heard and learned at the MSLA annual conference in October. There I heard the visionary Stephen Abrams speak about how technology is speeding up and how changing format will drive how our libraries look in the near future. I found myself wandering around in fog over the next few days trying to make sense of what I had heard and how I felt it might all play out in children’s services. Specifically, if the change in format means a real shift from book as a physical artifact to a digital resource, what will that mean for picture books? What about the future of the Caldecott Medal in a digital world? I had not resolved these questions in my mind when the New York Times article appeared. Stephen Abrams had warned us that the changes facing us will be many and of rapid succession. The luxury of understanding one thing before facing the next will be just that, luxury. Those who can quickly respond in clear, concise language their thoughts will certainly be ahead of the rest of us who are left standing in shock trying to catch up. It occurs to me that the skill of responding quickly to new information might be a very important skill to instill in our students.  I need to practice the skill so that I can model it.

This morning I came across the CBS article Expert: Picture Books Do Still Work for Kids
While I could have wished for a title with more positive spin, the article is quite solid in outlining how children benefit from picture books. It also encourages parents to add books to the holiday bounty. More than anything, the tone of the article is a calming force. Rather than voicing outrage, the article is reassuring and soothing like a story before bed. Make mine a picture book.

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