Kids Guided Away from Picture Books

Parents these days. The picture book, a staple of children’s literature with its colorful illustrations and oversized type, is slowly fading away. Though the recession is no doubt a factor, parents have begun pressuring their children to abandon picture books in favor of text-heavy tomes at an earlier age, in part because of more rigorous standardized testing in schools. “They’re 4 years old, and their parents are getting them Stuart Little,” said one bookstore’s children’s section manager. “I see children pick up picture books, and then the parents say, ‘You can do better than this, you can do more than this.’ It’s a terrible pressure parents are feeling—that somehow, I shouldn’t let my child have this picture book because she won’t get into Harvard.” Indeed, although favorites like Where the Wild Things Are still sell, 20 percent of all children’s books published by Simon & Schuster are picture books, down from 35 percent a few years ago.