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Can someone help me understand this CM quote from volume 5? “Away with books, and ‘reading to’–for the first five or six years of life. The endless succession of story-books, scenes, shifting like a panorama before the child’s vision, is a mental and moral dissipation; he gets nothing to grow upon, or is allowed no leisure to digest what he gets.” I understand waiting until age six for narration and formal schooling, but are we really not to read picture books to our young children?sherazParticipant
I too have read the quote that you are talking about and wondered if I should skip the picture books and do something else. Then as I have read more – including this quote from Volume 3 (page 171), Miss Mason talks about how we undervalue children:
“I know you may bring a horse to the water, but you cannot make him drink. What I complain of is that we do not bring our horse to the water. … And all the time we have books, books teeming with ideas fresh from the minds of thinkers upon every subject to which we can wish to introduce children.” –
I have come to the conclusion that it isn’t the picture books that are bad – it is the form or type we subject our children to and how we use them. There are some truly twaddly children’s books that do not invite our children to love and seek truth, goodness, and beauty. And there are some that do and are wonderful invitations to children to see and desire the meaning of the printed words. Those are the ones we should surround and envelope our children with – stories of greatness, wonderful detailed pictures, and great readable language. Those are the ones we want our children to delight and linger in. By surrounding our children to the visual aspect, the auditory, and the physical aspect of looking, reading aloud, and handling these enriching picture books, we are indeed bringing the horse to the water – and he will desire to drink deeply.
I found a book a few years ago that was SO helpful in my quest to find those kinds of picture books. It is called A Picture Perfect Childhood by cay Gibbons. She has included several chapters on why picture books are beneficial even to the older child, but she has included list upon list of wonderfully enriching books organised in everything form from monthly themes, cooking lessons, subjects lists, values and character, and more. I did a review of it on my blog.lnosbornParticipant
The quote you stated says, “The endless succession of storybooks…” I can’t quote from what volume she mentioned it right now, but I believe CM also stated that it was better to have fewer well-written, rich storybooks than an “endless succession” of storybooks which gives the child no space to ponder each of them with devoted attention. I am not sure of the context of the quote you gave, but maybe in the context of her other writings, it may make more sense. I love picture books, but we do have our favorites, and we still probably have too many.lnosbornParticipant
I don’t know what the selection of quality children’s picture books was in CM’s time, but we have to keep that in mind too. I consider a lot of picture books for picture study because some have very nice illustrations. And the kids are already looking and studying the illustrations while we’re reading together.mrsmccardellParticipant
Our entire first year was pulled from “A Picture Perfect Childhood” and it was fantastic! It was a great intro to all the subjects, people, places, etc.MichelleParticipant
There are wonderful picture books for littles that are not twaddle-y. I am still learning how to pick and choose.
I love the book list from Read Aloud Revival, (Amongst Lovely Things) .
Just because it has pictures does not mean it is twaddle because My Winnie the Pooh has pictures on most pages.
My kids LOVE the Give a Mouse series, the How do Dinosaurs series and all Eric Carle, and those are picture books for sure but not; “Mickey mouse has a dog. His name is Pluto. Pluto is a friend. etc”
Illustrations can be a beautiful thing when choosing books because that also helps kids look at art. I for one won’t pick a picture book if I can’t stand to look at the illustration (My kids love Stop that Pickle, but I hate the way the people look so I have a hard time reading it).
I would not say “no picture books”, I would say, “choose your picture books well”.
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