I recently read a couple interesting articles that discussed how picture books are losing their appeal. Retailers are selling fewer pictures books; as a result, publishers are publishing less of these books.
Each of these articles quoted retailers stating that they thought the decline came from parents pushing their children to read chapter books at younger and younger ages. One retailer said that parents were buying Stuart Little for their four-year-olds instead of picture books. She felt it this behavior came from a cultural push for children to start reading early so that they would excel in school.
I read another study conducted of 1,000+ children and their parents by Scholastic. This study found that children between the ages of six and 17 spend less time reading for fun and more time going online and using their phones for fun.
Reading among children is declining. Many argue that this is because there are so many electronic gadgets, as well as computers and the Internet, to entertain kids, so they don’t gravitate toward reading in their spare time.
Reading is a very different skill from playing electronic games. Reading requires extended attention and concentration on something that does not have much sensory input (compared to video games). I find it odd that, in an era of electronic gadgets with colorful graphics, parents are skipping picture books and pushing their kids to read chapter books at a young age.
Wouldn’t it make more sense to have the kids look at fantastic, colorful pictures while reading to engage children and encourage them to read?
Just maybe the decline in parents gravitating toward picture books for their children is part of the reason children are spending less time reading for fun. After all, I think picture books help cement the beauty of reading for young children.
As a Christian, the decline in reading in children alarms me. For, if children do not develop the skill of reading for pleasure and learning, then, they won’t learn to read the Bible for themselves.
Reading God’s word is important for Christians. Without the ability to read and delve into God’s word, people remain baby Christians, unable to effectively handle this war that we fight against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of the dark world, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.