Could This Be the End for 'Goodnight Moon'?

Andrew Dalton
5

Are you and your child ditching Goodnight Moon for Anne of Green Gables before you ditch pull-ups for undies? If so, Dr. Seuss could be looking down from his zany, rhyme-filled heaven and crying.

The picture book is hurting, says the New York Times.

Mostly it's just the economy -- all businesses are down, and one of the perks of having a chapter-aged child is that the books are insanely cheaper: I can get three Junie B. Joneses for the price of one Olivia.

But something else is afoot. Justin Chanda of Simon and Schuster tells the Times:

“Parents are saying, ‘My kid doesn’t need books with pictures anymore ... There’s a real push with parents and schools to have kids start reading big-kid books earlier. We’ve accelerated the graduation rate out of picture books.”

I understand. In my master plan my daughter and I would blast through The Very Hungry Caterpillar in year one, do my childhood favorite Where the Red Fern Grows at two (before she's old enough to be truly disturbed by doggie death), Island of the Blue Dolphins at three (hey, it's got dolphins!), and Madame Bovary at four (so she'd understand the malaise of the 19th century French woman).

But as a lot of us have learned with our kids and their early reader books, you shouldn't mistake lack of pictures for sophistication.

Kris Vreeland, a buyer at Vroman's, my favorite local bookstore here in the Pasadena area, tells the Times:

"Some of the vocabulary in a picture book is much more challenging than in a chapter book ... The words themselves, and the concepts, can be very sophisticated in a picture book."

Actually, Seuss and classic pic-book authors are doing fine. It's the new entries who are hurting. Bookstore owners say beautifully illustrated new tomes sit unbought and end up going back to the publisher. As one bookseller says:

"So many of them just die a sad little death, and we never see them again." 

But even this sappy lament doesn't get to the plight of the real victims here: Celebrities. How will they demonstrate their magnificent mommyhood if no one is buying their story about an ant who goes gluten-free?

Are you concerned about the demise of picture books?


Image via Flickr/LechKarolPawlaszek

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