A Wake Up Call

I have not been sitting idly by watching the world around me “go to Hell in a hand basket” as my grandmother used to say. I have been more than busy for sure with children moving away, finding and starting a new job and myriad other of life’s challenges. Yesterday,  however,  I received my blog wake up call.

It’s not that I didn’t have plenty to write about when Phoebe Prince took her own life as the result of cyber bullying on the part of her classmates.

I had even more to say about the suicide of Tyler Clementi whose roommate and his girlfriend video taped Tyler in his private space and then posted the video on the internet.

I could write  for hours about the  political attack ads currently airing thanks to the 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission decision by the Supreme Court allowing anonymity of funding sources and unrestricted donation amounts.

Yet none of these got me to sit down at my computer to blog about the childrens books and their values content that we – and the Supreme Court, Rutgers and high school students everywhere – should be reading to get ourselves back on track.  No, it was yesterday’s New York Times headline: “Picture Books No Longer a Staple for Children” that got my tushi in the chair.

Are they kidding – apparently not, according to this article.  The economic downturn is not the only cause of the downfall of the picture book. It’s “The Parents,” says the article.

Yes, according to the NYT parents everywhere are pushing their children out of picture books and into chapter books in order to improve their scores on standardized tests. Four-year-olds are reading Stuart Little, Five-year-olds are reading The Phantom Tollbooth. Has anyone discussed with “The Parents” the difference between reading and comprehension or the importance of choosing books for their age-appropriateness not just for reading-level? There are picture books as appropriate for adults as are for 4-8 year olds simply because the power of the words rests as much in the life experience of the reader as in word definitions. The pictures simply add to the drama of the story.

Here’s an idea: Teachers, Librarians, Children’s Book Lovers everywhere suggest that everyone go back to basics and read – a picture book!  Let’s start here:

The Golden Rule by Ilene Cooper. Illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska.  © 2007, Abrams Books for Young Readers.  Ages 4-8. In this very beautiful, very simple, extraordinary book, a grandfather explains the Golden Rule to his grandson. “Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You.” Found in all the world’s religions and cultures, it is an easy statement, but apparently very difficult to live by. As Grandfather says, “‘You can’t make everyone in the world practice the Golden Rule. There’s only one person you can ask to do that.’ ‘Me?’” Says his grandson. “‘You. It begins with you.’”

Perhaps, if we start with the basics,  the hand basket we are all riding in will change direction as a result.

Happy Reading,

Kathy B.

P.S. As you can imagine the Kidlitosphere has been abuzz with the news of this article in the NYT. My favorite blog was written by MotherReader and of special note is the blog of the mother interviewed in the NYT article regarding how her comments were taken out of context.

©2010 Kathleen M. Bloomfield and forwordsbooks.com all rights reserved.
The Book used in this review was from my personal library.
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