Friends of the Truckee Library: The demise of picture books?
November 16, 2010
TRUCKEE, Calif. and#8212; A recent article in the New York Times caught my eye in a very big way. Julie Bosman contends picture books are no longer a staple for children. Publishers are scaling back the number of picture book titles released and booksellers across the country say sales have been suffering. While the economic downturn plays a major factor, many in the industry believe parents are rushing their young children into text-heavy chapter books in order to keep up with increasingly rigorous standardized testing in schools.
Iand#8217;m happy to report I am not seeing this happen in Truckee . In fact, picture book circulation has increased by double digits over last year. Just ask our staff and volunteer shelvers about the plethora of picture books populating our book return trucks. This year we are on track to circulate 15,000 picture books; which translates to approximately 15 titles for every child in Truckee between the ages of 0 and 4. Juvenile chapter books (up 7 percent to approximately 10,000 circulations) and teen chapter books (up 3 percent to approximately 2,600 circulations) also enjoyed year-over increases, but not quite as remarkably.
My guess is picture books are one of the easier line items to cut in the family budget, especially when you have a local library that actively purchases in this area. The average retail cost of a hardcover picture book plus tax is nearly $20. It is no wonder more and more people are visiting the library to get their picture book quota filled. An unfortunate outcome of this phenomenon is the supply and demand economics results in reduced publishing volume. Hence, the New York Times coverage.
Please remember, you are never too old to enjoy picture books. Even when your child has graduated to chapter books, itand#8217;s good to keep picture books in the mix. With this idea in mind, the Truckee Library has compiled a list of recommended readings entitled and#8220;Picture Books Beyond Preschool: More words per page, more sophisticated storylines, yet brilliantly illustrated and perfect for read-alouds.and#8221; One caveat: In some cases, these sophisticated storylines may not work for all ages, either in terms of subject matter or interest level. There are mature storylines involving historical events (e.g. and#8220;Brundibarand#8221; is based on a true story set in a World War II concentration camp and and#8220;Smoky Nightand#8221; takes place during the L.A. riots), or somewhat scary content, as in the case of and#8220;Wolves in the Walls,and#8221; or more sophisticated humor, as in the case of Clarice Bean or the fractured fairytales. But if you are determined to delve into chapter books, the Truckee Library has you covered as well, with a booklist entitled Gentle Chapter Books for the First Family Read-Aloud.
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