Sunday, October 24, 2010

Decline in Book Sales?

I realize that the "family" blog is fast becoming a place for me to view opinions on things. So while I apologize in advance, I must say I do try to keep them relevant to my family. Today in the Times Union, Albany, NY, I read an interesting article in the "Perspective" section by Diane Cameron. Ms. Cameron tells us that sales are down in picture books. Why, you might ask? Well, never fear, she fills in the blanks, though I am still searching for some substantiation to her claims.

For starters, she says that parents are reading "chapter books" to their children. I find this a little difficult to believe since true picture books are geared to the preschooler. I read a few longer books to Kyle, but they have to really be in his interest areas to hold his attention. Ms. Cameron goes on to add that we are choosing chapter books because of standardized testing. Hmmm... again, just doesn't make that much sense to me. Last I checked, no one is testing Kyle(or any preschooler) to move onto the next grade or age or milestone.

Don't stop reading just yet, this is about to get more interesting. The "anti-picture book demographic" apparently includes me and every other mom/dad I know between their 30s and 40s. (I swear this was in print!) We "see more movies than any other group and are the primary market for graphic novels". My fellow 30-40 year old parents, how many movies have you seen in the last year? I would bet that most of us can count it on one hand. Why? Because it costs an arm and a leg to go, not to mention the sitter you have to hire to have a night out. And graphic novels? What?! I barely have time to read the paper. Most of my reading involves picture books with less than 1000 words, and those aren't even for my enjoyment, but my child's!

Ms. Cameron goes on to say that we are "unsettled by imagination, and maybe art" and our kids "no longer play - they take classes". As a co-organizer of the mommies group, Toga Tots, I know that we strive to plan events that involve LOTS of play. We spend days at the playgrounds in the summers, playdates at friends, crafting activities, music groups, etc. We even have a preschool book club where we cover some classic books like "Cordouroy" and "The Little Engine that Could". Funny, that all of that vaguely sounds like play using imaginations and gasp, art. Oh, and Ms. Cameron, you are right on one thing here - my son goes to 1 class. It is at the local library reading story books, singing, dancing and playing. The horrors!

Here is where Ms. Cameron has obviously lost her mind because she is linking the decline in picture books to "our failure to embrace other kinds of imaginative play - like sexual fantasy." Seriously! We 30-40 year olds apparently are jumping from Playboy to internet porn, so that must be why I didn't record a sale for "Goodnight Moon" at Barnes and Noble before my son was 2 3/4. OH... wait! Or is it because the 30-40 year old parents have better grasped the concept of Reuse and Renew? Just throwing it out there. I actually own "Goodnight Moon", or rather Kyle does. I admit though, I did not buy it somewhere that could record the barcode sale, but rather I bought it used. Why should I spend $8.99 for this when I find a perfectly good used copy somewhere else for half the cost or less? It isn't because I am not buying books. I buy plenty new. The truth is that they are for a preschooler, who may or may not be the gentlest person on a book. Why do I care if it has minor creases? If he loves it, it will be way worse than that in the long run. Oh, and we also frequent the library so that I can discover books that my son will genuinely like instead of having a shelf full of possibilities.

Perhaps I take Ms. Cameron's article too personally, but I do so on behalf of many others I know. We are the parents striving to keep the electronic toys to a minimum, dechemicalize the house from convenience foods and cleaners, and recycle so that our children will have something left. Now that my rant is done, please enjoy some photos of a boy playing and using his imagination.


Apple picking

Peek a Boo with a friend

Playing Air Guitar

Meeting a butterfly up close and personal

1 comment:

  1. Well said, I couldn't agree more. This sounds like a good rebuttle piece :)


Thanks for leaving a comment! Look forward to more :) ~ Susan