The children's picture book is not doing so well. People aren't buying it like they should. I don't have all the facts and numbers (I'm not that guy), but I know enough to tell you that. Maybe it's because of tough economic times. Maybe it's because of e-bookery or general gadget-y (short attention span) distractions. Maybe it's because parents aren't reading to their kids enough. Maybe it's because education is accelerating young readers at a newer, faster pace, and rushing them over the picture book form. Maybe it's because it's been forgotten how important, irreplaceable, and (when stars align) how spiritual the picture book experience is to both children and adults.
If you think enough about it, you'll see the importance of and need for picture books. For one thing... reading to your kids is going to make them better. Period. It's going to build some solid ground to a solid person. It's going to build up their vocabulary, and make them smarter and more fun and more interesting to be around. And you'll be all the more prouder (of yourself and of them). That's the common sense thing. But beneath the surface is the more subtle stuff. Reading to your kids is going to make you better. Shared reading is an experience no parent or child should do without. A special bond between Mom or Dad and baby girl or baby boy that will never, ever be forgotten. And of course there's art appreciation. Picture books are painstakingly composed by writers who really, really, REALLY love what they are doing. Manuscripts are written and re-written, and thrown out and re-written and revised and picked apart and picked apart again so that every line counts, every word counts. And they are visually realized by artists who really, really, REALLY love what they are doing, developing characters, and sketching and re-sketching and re-sketching, and testing drawing approaches, painting approaches, digital illustration options, creating color palettes, and newer better color palettes (and throwing those out and creating the best color palettes). And then they are designed and typeset and polished and shaped and assembled and proofed and press-checked and assembled by people who really, really, REALLY care about the finished visual dynamics of the thing. Writing, art, design, printing, binding, packaging... to make just one perfectly produced book ready to digest and enjoy. (This visual distinction and quality control of image and package from top to bottom is why picture books can never truly translate to e-books, if you think about it. But that's another rant.)
This is my challenge to you, dear readers. Go into a book store (not a website, but a store with a roof, walls, people, books you can hold and browse over) and spend some time in the children's book section. Find something incredible (it ain't hard). Then, when you're all filled up, buy just one picture book. And in a week's time, repeat. Buy one picture book a week for your kid(s), some other kid(s) you love, or for yourself or some other grown-up you love. I can identify that it's hard to get, at first, but adults can also enjoy reading picture books. And if you absolutely can't swallow that concept, you can't escape appreciating them for the amazing artwork alone. It's like buying amazing art that can sit on your coffee table (or wherever you keep your favorite books with your favorite images) for, like, 16 bucks or whatever. Someone you know needs more picture books in her/his/their life/lives. You need to experience, again, what you loved when you read picture books as a kid.
(Okay, okay.... if you absolutely, seriously, truthfully can't get to or find a brick and mortar book store, buy your books online. But try this first.)
If you can't do a pic book a week, make it a pic book a month.
And if you can't do that (understood, times are tight).... Go into your most excellent local library and check out 10 picture books a week. If you can't do it every week, do it once a month.
Is this more preaching to the choir? Maybe so. But I'm not sure there's enough preaching going on. The picture book should be preached. It should be testified. We have to do more. We have to talk more. I can't do without it. And if you think about it, neither can you.
P.S. If you take this seriously, and I hope that you do, and you happen to be on Facebook, pledge to me, to yourself, and to everyone around you that you will do this by liking this Facebook page. Here. Now.