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Genres & Age Categories => Picture Books (PB) => Topic started by: Gatz on July 07, 2015, 11:49 AM

Title: Shorter picture books, shorter attention spans, shortchanging children
Post by: Gatz on July 07, 2015, 11:49 AM
In PW Shelf Talker today, there is an article " Pandering to or Presuming Shorter Attention Spans?"

The author, bookseller Elizabeth Bluemle, provides thought-provoking points on the shortchanging of children by PBs with shorter and shorter word counts.

Speculating on the causes of the briefer texts, she rejects the idea that children have briefer attention spans than they used to.

She asks, "Is it because we are currently experiencing a trend of short, meta, funny picture books that don’t unfold a story with characters so much as riff on a clever idea?"

Gatz
Title: Re: Shorter picture books, shorter attention spans, shortchanging children
Post by: Arona on July 07, 2015, 12:55 PM
I'm excited to hear this was in PW.  :running

That to which we pander, we get.
Title: Re: Shorter picture books, shorter attention spans, shortchanging children
Post by: Eileen Kennedy-Moore on July 07, 2015, 08:41 PM
There are some truly brilliant PBs with very few words, but that doesn't mean young children won't find longer works engaging. I think part of what's happening is that often only very young children read PBs because kids are pushed to read chapter books as early as possible. This is a shame, because the language in an adult-read PB is often richer, more melodic, and more nuanced than the very basic text of an early chapter book. I'm not against chapter books, by any means, but I also don't think we want to hurry children away from PBs or the experience of being read to by an adult.
Title: Re: Shorter picture books, shorter attention spans, shortchanging children
Post by: Trine on July 08, 2015, 03:22 PM
I agree!  :rainbow
Title: Re: Shorter picture books, shorter attention spans, shortchanging children
Post by: Artemesia on July 08, 2015, 04:11 PM
Do you have a link, Gatz?

I find with the short length of most PBs my kids don't seem satisfied and they end up asking for 5 or 6. I wish there were more books that were a bit longer because I think they'd enjoy spending more time in a book. Sometimes the short ones are nice too when bedtime is running late and you just want a quick read.

As a writer though, I find myself wishing an 800-1000 word or even 1200 word PB was still acceptable.
Title: Re: Shorter picture books, shorter attention spans, shortchanging children
Post by: AnneB on July 08, 2015, 04:53 PM
Roger Sutton did a similar post today on the his blog. http://www.hbook.com/2015/07/blogs/read-roger/picture-book-problems/
Wonder if the same luncheon/industry-insider tweetfest sparked both posts?
Title: Re: Shorter picture books, shorter attention spans, shortchanging children
Post by: Artemesia on July 08, 2015, 05:21 PM
Katie, you little dickens, you edited my post. Did I make an embarrassing typo??  :shocked
Title: Re: Shorter picture books, shorter attention spans, shortchanging children
Post by: Gatz on July 08, 2015, 07:15 PM
Artemesia,

Here's the link: 

http://blogs.publishersweekly.com/blogs/shelftalker/?p=16276&utm_source=Publishers+Weekly&utm_campaign=2d29c9499f-UA-15906914-1&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_0bb2959cbb-2d29c9499f-304859193

Whew.
Title: Re: Shorter picture books, shorter attention spans, shortchanging children
Post by: Gatz on July 08, 2015, 07:24 PM
Eileen,

I think you make a tremendously important point:

"I think part of what's happening is that often only very young children read PBs because kids are pushed to read chapter books as early as possible. This is a shame, because the language in an adult-read PB is often richer, more melodic, and more nuanced than the very basic text of an early chapter book."


(This should've been done with the Quote feature, but I can't figure how to use it. I'm still a bit of an e-noramus.)

Gatz
Title: Re: Shorter picture books, shorter attention spans, shortchanging children
Post by: Arona on July 09, 2015, 07:42 AM
A push to read at more advanced levels sooner (chapter books) does not promote or indicate comprehension (or other skills) associated with that level.

2012 SATs produced the lowest reading scores since 1972.

The push may not be solely related to the decline, but the age groups for storybooks (not PBs) is still a fairly critical developmental age. We might have set aside some of the process in pursuit of advancement while the basic human components remained the same. Just because a three-year-old can navigate a tablet to get to their games doesn't mean they're ready for MIT.

Title: Re: Shorter picture books, shorter attention spans, shortchanging children
Post by: Artemesia on July 09, 2015, 08:13 AM
Thanks for the links, Gatz and Anne.
Title: Re: Shorter picture books, shorter attention spans, shortchanging children
Post by: Pons on July 09, 2015, 09:05 AM
I find this thread so interesting. You're all saying the things I've been thinking for a long time. The push for Earlier is Better in education winds up being counterproductive in many ways. I remember my father reading Bartholomew Cubbins and the Oobleck to me when I was about 4 and hanging on every word, but it is so wordy by today's standards I doubt it would have be published.

I used to teach an early morning class for teenagers and was warned to never read to them because kids today have no tolerance for that. Well, a couple of times a year the kids just hit a wall (it's not easy to get up at half past dark and go to class), so I gave them markers and paper and let them draw while I read to them. They loved it and so did I.

The assumption today that experiences have to be packaged and quick doesn't allow for the times when children and parents want depth and nuance.

 
Title: Re: Shorter picture books, shorter attention spans, shortchanging children
Post by: Michael Sussman on July 09, 2015, 01:11 PM
There's a saying about how children's books are like caskets and xxx (I can't recall the other example) in that the they are generally not purchased by the user.

I think part of this trend is due to busy, exhausted parents--the ones buying the books--who want to shorten the bedtime reading period.
Title: Re: Shorter picture books, shorter attention spans, shortchanging children
Post by: Kell on July 09, 2015, 01:55 PM
Interesting topic! I want longer picture books as both a reader, writer, and parent. I tend to write 600-800 words and I like that length for character and story development. My agent wants shorter, but we did sell my debut at about 800 words, so yay!

I read PBs with my daughters, 7 and 10, every night. I don't know if they would if I weren't a writer, but I take them out of the library, and they irresistible. We take out short and funny, but there are plenty of long ones over 800 words. For example, the Matt de la Pena/Christian Robinson Caldecott Honor book Last Stop on Market Street is 757 words and has some beautiful figurative language and interiority that you don't see allowed much in picture books these days.

ETA: I like the phrase from the PW article about "earning the words." A knee-jerk reaction to cut any words over X isn't right but every word in a picture book has to earn its way there. If we can write compelling stories with characters and language that engages, the book won't feel long. The words are earned.

(And other times, I read 500 word books that don't engage and seem endless...)
Title: Re: Shorter picture books, shorter attention spans, shortchanging children
Post by: Artemesia on July 09, 2015, 02:31 PM
I totally agree with you, Kell, about earning the words!
Title: Re: Shorter picture books, shorter attention spans, shortchanging children
Post by: Betsy on July 09, 2015, 02:48 PM
Lots of good comments from all of you. I've been feeling this way for years. But I do have to add that the people on this board may not be typical--as probably all of you are wordsmiths. I do know that when I taught kindergarten in an Hispanic, working class neighborhood, it was pretty hard to get the kids to focus on a book (in English) at all and I was really thankful for those shorter picture books. The first item on my agenda was to get those kids to love books, no matter how I had to do it.

Michael--the other items is dog food. Here's the quote:

"Like dog food and coffins, children's books are usually picked out by someone other than the ultimate recipient."
--Tracy Mayor
Title: Re: Shorter picture books, shorter attention spans, shortchanging children
Post by: Arona on July 09, 2015, 05:09 PM
There's room, as there's always been, for PBs and storybooks. The need for both hasn't changed in the last fifty years, IMHO, despite technology. What changed is a more recent combination of beliefs of what is perceived as important or unnecessary, or necessary or impossible. Like many things, we don't see the error in our logic (or beliefs or assumptions or...) until we see the outcome down the line, or until someone assembles information in a way that suddenly "proves" popular theory/thought incorrect. (Pluto isn't a planet vs. the "new" math 50 years ago to the present core curriculum.)

History proves SO many methods/theories/beliefs/approaches are guesses, in many things.

There have always been parents who, regardless of marital and/or employment status, will delight in reading to their kids (and skip verses or pages, a time-honored parental profession, when necessary). And there's the parents who don't read to their kids at all. And a lot of those kids want to dive into the worlds that books offer. Some find a way. Some don't.

Of course you market to those who buy a product!

But marketing is about telling--showing--people how much they need the product, much like what writers have to do to impress an agent/editor. If publishing is saying there's no room for storybooks anymore, then to me, that says a number of things...one thing is that the industry isn't as strong as it should be. As tough as they are to break into, and with the clout they seem to have, you'd think the marketing drive would speak more to the FUEL that books and imagination can--WILL--offer.

Every marketing generation has competition. We should have known--but now we're seeing--that human evolution can't keep up, in the long run, as we perceived, with technological advancements. Things suffer.

We're pandering. Been pandering. What's next because of it.

Just some of my rambling thoughts, of course. (When I rule the world one day as benevolent dictator, things will change, and I'll remember the Blueboarders--just so you know.)












Title: Re: Shorter picture books, shorter attention spans, shortchanging children
Post by: Artemesia on July 09, 2015, 05:13 PM
(When I rule the world one day as benevolent dictator, things will change, and I'll remember the Blueboarders--just so you know.)

:king

*note to self: be nice to Arona*

Title: Re: Shorter picture books, shorter attention spans, shortchanging children
Post by: Michael Sussman on July 10, 2015, 06:22 PM
Michael--the other items is dog food. Here's the quote:

"Like dog food and coffins, children's books are usually picked out by someone other than the ultimate recipient."
--Tracy Mayor

Thanks, Ellen, I love that line.
Title: Re: Shorter picture books, shorter attention spans, shortchanging children
Post by: Betsy on July 10, 2015, 06:42 PM
Me too. That's why you always have to throw a little something in for the weary adults.
Title: Re: Shorter picture books, shorter attention spans, shortchanging children
Post by: Gatz on July 11, 2015, 10:58 AM
So many interesting views.

It's heartening to see so much support for picture books with more text and more story. I know the 5- to 8-year-olds I read to definitely prefer them.

Gatz
Title: Re: Shorter picture books, shorter attention spans, shortchanging children
Post by: Andrea Mack on July 11, 2015, 12:41 PM
From my perspective as a kindergarten teacher, I agree with Betsy on the benefits of shorter books:
Quote
"I do know that when I taught kindergarten in an Hispanic, working class neighborhood, it was pretty hard to get the kids to focus on a book (in English) at all and I was really thankful for those shorter picture books."

I really like having short but meaningful books to read. It means we can take more time to discuss a book without students getting overly restless. Or sometimes I have a short space of time and like to read a book we can finish, instead of having to come back to it later. It is hard for 4 and 5 year olds to concentrate on a long story when there are exciting hands-on things to do (e.g., water table, building, art centre) and so much I want to share with them during a day (science, math, language). That said, I think as they get older, in grade 1 and 2, they are more able to listen to and understand longer books.

As a writer, I think it's important to write the story and give it the space it needs to be told. Sometimes that works in under 500 words, sometimes it doesn't. I hope there is room in publishing for both.
Title: Re: Shorter picture books, shorter attention spans, shortchanging children
Post by: Gatz on July 11, 2015, 02:13 PM
"I think as they get older, in grade 1 and 2, they are more able to listen to and understand longer books.

As a writer, I think it's important to write the story and give it the space it needs to be told. Sometimes that works in under 500 words, sometimes it doesn't. I hope there is room in publishing for both.
[/quote]

I agree. Unfortunately, in publishing today, by and large there seems to be room only for the short books.
Title: Re: Shorter picture books, shorter attention spans, shortchanging children
Post by: dinalapomy101 on July 11, 2015, 02:42 PM
One of the most frequent questions I get in my busy public library at the Children's Ref Desk is, "Where are the books for preschoolers?" At this, I point to the walls of picture books and ask if they have a certain topic in mind to narrow down the choice. If they do ask for help, they frequently say, "And not too long because s/he is only 3," or they pass by my selections because they are "too long," etc. So I just think the trend right now is catering to that age group, and in general 3yos just won't sit still for as long/have the patience for that long a story.
Title: Re: Shorter picture books, shorter attention spans, shortchanging children
Post by: Vijaya on July 11, 2015, 03:08 PM
Truth be told, if parents didn't put electronic devices into their kids' hands, a lot of them would be more engaged in books, because it'd be the only game in town. We were completely TV-video free for the first 10 yrs of our children's lives and we had lots of long reading sessions along with the usual playing. But when I was tired, I really appreciated the short PB. By the time my son was 2 he had memorized scores of books so when he did finally start speaking (at age 3), he'd *read* to his younger sister. And she'd listen to him with rapt attention.

I agree with the poster who said there's a push to do everything earlier. Next thing you know, they'll be pushing 2 yr olds to know the alphabet. I know a woman who played French tapes to her baby while she was carrying her in the womb.

I really like the variety of PBs though, for older and younger children. Many publishers like Boyds Mills, Charlesbridge, publish the longer PB, so it's not like there's a dearth of them.

Vijaya
Title: Re: Shorter picture books, shorter attention spans, shortchanging children
Post by: Marissa Doyle on July 11, 2015, 03:39 PM
Heh. My son, now 24, positively adored AND TO THINK THAT I SAW IT ON MULBERRY STREET when he was around 23 months, and actually could recite it along with me as I read it to him. He also loved all of Robert McKloskey. Does anyone read those anymore?
Title: Re: Shorter picture books, shorter attention spans, shortchanging children
Post by: dinalapomy101 on July 11, 2015, 04:25 PM
At my lib, all Dr. Seuss is still very popular! I loved them as a kid, too, and do agree that the lure of TV/screen time that is so available now takes away reading time. Who knows how much more or less I would've read as a kid if I'd had all there is today? Not sure.

Robert McCloskey gets requested when someone is taking their kids to Boston. :)
Title: Re: Shorter picture books, shorter attention spans, shortchanging children
Post by: AuntyBooks on July 11, 2015, 09:36 PM
One thing that figures in -- we have longer old storybooks that are still selling, and have been tested by time. Anyone who wants long story books to read to their children can find them. They are still on the market, and well loved--that means that new long picture books are in competition for market share with them. Since the old books have long ago earned out, they make more money for the publisher than contracting a new work. How many longer picture books does a publisher need on their list? At some point the market becomes saturated.

The very short form is newer, are competing against contemporary books. They all cost about as much to produce, so a newcomer has a better chance.

I do love writing story books. I don't have as much luck selling them as I do selling the very short books.

:( eab
Title: Re: Shorter picture books, shorter attention spans, shortchanging children
Post by: Pons on July 12, 2015, 08:02 AM
One thing that figures in -- we have longer old storybooks that are still selling, and have been tested by time. Anyone who wants long story books to read to their children can find them. They are still on the market, and well loved--that means that new long picture books are in competition for market share with them. Since the old books have long ago earned out, they make more money for the publisher than contracting a new work. How many longer picture books does a publisher need on their list? At some point the market becomes saturated.

The very short form is newer, are competing against contemporary books. They all cost about as much to produce, so a newcomer has a better chance.

Good point.
Title: Re: Shorter picture books, shorter attention spans, shortchanging children
Post by: Vijaya on July 12, 2015, 08:05 AM
Aunty, thank you for sharing your wisdom here with us.
Vijaya
Title: Re: Shorter picture books, shorter attention spans, shortchanging children
Post by: 217mom on July 12, 2015, 12:53 PM
Things, they are a-changing. (Worldly matter always are.)But this has (IMO) less to do with the change in younger readers or their attention span. it has to do with attempts to market in a succinct way and not being a marketer, I don't know if it's productive.


My point about the so-called "shorter attention span for young readers"--I found it confusing that MG have gotten longer (a lot longer, and I am not speaking of Harry Potter and a few outliers) and PB have gotten shorter. If attention spans and SAT scores had anything to do with it, why would this be?

Here's my current attempt to understand these changes--

For one thing, MG are now read by many adults. Hence the word-count rise. That was *the other* Harry Potter legacy.
The advent of YA (never a convincing category, as 15 year-olds read anything and not just books with young protagonists, and older adults also read books with characters in their teens) had blurred the lines rather than made it more specific.

About picture books-- most of us grew up reading short stories that were illustrated. True picture books were rare. Now they are the norm for the category still referred to by that name, which is art with few and sometimes no words. It's a different beast, I think.
We are all missing the story picture books. Those from way back (only two generations ago) often had 1,200-1,500 words. They didn't skimp on description, and the art was augmentative, not absolutely essential. We called them "picture books" but they were short stories with added art.

Seems to me true picture books are the artists' media, not the writers'.
Title: Re: Shorter picture books, shorter attention spans, shortchanging children
Post by: Gatz on July 12, 2015, 03:50 PM
One of the posters said that at some point the market would be saturated with longer picture books, and that there are enough good old classic ones at the library to keep kids occupied.

But where are the NEW classics supposed to come from?

If the market is saturated, surely it is with the 2-4 year-old books.



Title: Re: Shorter picture books, shorter attention spans, shortchanging children
Post by: AuntyBooks on July 12, 2015, 05:27 PM
Gatz --I believe the new classics will be shorter, like WHERE'S MY HAT or have a brand new twist like BATTLE BUNNY. I think innovation and wild creativity are called for if we want to stand out in an already crowded field. The old classics were breaking new ground in many ways when they were published.

:) eab
Title: Re: Shorter picture books, shorter attention spans, shortchanging children
Post by: Betsy on July 12, 2015, 06:42 PM
Interesting point, 217.

I'm enjoying everyone's take on this topic. I too have a pang in my heart for all the storybooks that aren't being published, and I hope they'll come back again some day.
Title: Re: Shorter picture books, shorter attention spans, shortchanging children
Post by: Debbie Vilardi on July 13, 2015, 07:10 AM

The very short form is newer, are competing against contemporary books. They all cost about as much to produce, so a newcomer has a better chance.

I do love writing story books. I don't have as much luck selling them as I do selling the very short books.

:( eab

The very short form is not as new as we think. All of Eric Carle's books have low word counts. Where the Wild Things Are does too. Goodnight Moon is also very short. The newer short books are competing with these.

I commented on Elizabeth's blog post that my kids both loved Cars and Trucks and Things That Go by Richard Scary. I still give this book to two year olds. It's interactive in that you can search for Goldbug on each page. (My son is ten and my daughter is 14, so they are digital-age kids, but like Vijaya, I limit screen time.) The book took 45 minutes to read. We never read it at bedtime. Two year olds will sit if you make the sitting cozy and/or fun enough.

My kids loved The Magic School Bus books and had heard them all by the end of Kindergarten. I read only the text if we had little time. I added the speech bubbles if we had more time. Sometimes, we even read the side notes.

I love some of the shorter books and the wordless books for the visual aspects. Visual literacy is a very important skill, becoming more important as humanity progresses. (Emoji anyone?) But there are other literacy aspects that need the rich texts of longer picture books to teach at a younger age. The illustration support matters for learning to read. It is also important to be able to code switch from images to words and vice versa. The interplay of the two can add layers that one can't have without the other. An example is irony occurring when a deadpan text is matched with images that tell an opposite or less serious story.

We sell our readers and our society short when we dictate what the needs are based on assumptions. Oh, and how are kids going to develop longer attention spans if they're never exposed to longer books.
Title: Re: Shorter picture books, shorter attention spans, shortchanging children
Post by: AuntyBooks on July 13, 2015, 07:45 AM
Debbie -- it is very true that there are older short books, but they were the exception rather than the rule. Now, they are the rule…in the next generations of picture books who knows what will be the rule? I have a feeling that it will be influenced by the way kids read on computer screens. It actually wires your brain differently. I don't think it is so much an attention span issue, as kids have no problem focusing on games and puzzles on electronic devices for very long periods of time.

I do think it is a problem, because as I said, it wires the brain differently. People who read primarily on the internet lose the ability to focus on long form writing such as novels. In fact, many story picture books are longer than articles on the net. Perhaps it is the adults ability to focus for that long that is lacking?

I don't know what the future of published books will be -- but it won't be the past. Fortunately for those of us who value the old brain system we will still have books, and long books too.

:) eab

Title: Re: Shorter picture books, shorter attention spans, shortchanging children
Post by: andracill on July 13, 2015, 08:20 AM
We kept some of my favorites around for my own kids. They enjoyed Blueberries for Sal and The Big Brown Bear just like I did. That said, they especially loved the books with art that really made the story -- the little platypus, for instance. My son liked books he could easily 'read' (ie, memorize), therefore the short texts made him happy. He was 'reading' Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by 2. My daughter, otoh, never cared much about the texts at all and preferred to look through the books and come up with her own stories based on the art.

Both are avid readers today, and both can sit and read for hours at a time...so I'm not sure what that says. When I look at their friends/classmates, though, I guess the implications come through a bit more. At my daughter's age (going into 6th grade), most of her classmates are still readers; but for my son (who will be an 8th grader), most of his peers have stopped reading for pleasure (especially the boys). Is this tied into the shorter texts of their picture book days? :shrug Certainly the vast influx of video games have influenced the boys...if they can't be outside running around or throwing a ball, they're inside on their gaming system (or on their phones, using Instagram or texting).

I would say that my opinion is that picture books which can entice children into the world of imagination and story building (however they do that) are going to be incredibly valuable as we go into the future...and since I love the complexities and magic of language, I'd probably say that longer texts could fill that need in a way that nothing else can. I guess we'll see...
Title: Re: Shorter picture books, shorter attention spans, shortchanging children
Post by: Vijaya on July 13, 2015, 09:05 AM

I do think it is a problem, because as I said, it wires the brain differently. People who read primarily on the internet lose the ability to focus on long form writing such as novels. In fact, many story picture books are longer than articles on the net. Perhaps it is the adults ability to focus for that long that is lacking?


I made my kids read The Shallows by Nicholas Carr. Very insightful. Even they can see how their reading habits have changed due to reading on the internet and clicking away ...

Vijaya
Title: Re: Shorter picture books, shorter attention spans, shortchanging children
Post by: Pons on July 13, 2015, 11:09 AM
I made my kids read The Shallows by Nicholas Carr. Very insightful. Even they can see how their reading habits have changed due to reading on the internet and clicking away ...

This is an interesting thought - clicking away. I hadn't thought of that before, but if you can just click away, it can diminish your willingness or ability to plow through something you aren't thrilled with, in order to reap the rewards that may come farther on.

I had a friend whose father was in the military back when moving every two years was the norm. She said she didn't realize until she was an adult that all the moving made her consider problems to be disposable. If she had a problem with a friend or situation, she knew she didn't have to resolve it, because they'd be moving soon anyway.

I guess internet reading can be like that, too.
Title: Re: Shorter picture books, shorter attention spans, shortchanging children
Post by: Becky on July 13, 2015, 01:28 PM
What a great discussion! I have been talking about this with my writer friends lately and have even polled some parents. The parents I've talked to are split--some prefer longer picture books, but there are others who only read shorter books because of time. I'm glad this is something authors are discussing and am *hoping* that this, like other trends in the publishing industry, will begin to swing back the other direction in time. When I was a teacher, the picture books I chose were usually 800-1000 words--not too long OR too short for a teacher read aloud, in my opinion. My boys loved PBs of this length when they were younger, too.

 :sun Becky 
Title: Re: Shorter picture books, shorter attention spans, shortchanging children
Post by: AuntyBooks on July 13, 2015, 02:01 PM
Man. Even some peeps in 1835 were unhappy with the way kids were reading. But the perceived problem was a little different it seems…“Devouring Books” decries the “mental gluttony” that leads to over-reading--

http://www.merrycoz.org/books/DEVOURNG.xhtml

Not to make light of this important discussion, but this will perhaps give some peeps a laugh! Come to think of it, though, 'kids' books have been getting shorter and more simple ever since they first sprang into existence. Where will it end?

Well, I'm off to gormandize a book or six….nom, nom, nom!

eab

:) eab
Title: Re: Shorter picture books, shorter attention spans, shortchanging children
Post by: laura-jenkins on July 13, 2015, 03:14 PM
I believe longer picture books will eventually come back.  Everything always seem to come back full circle, whether it's a fashion fad or books.
Title: Re: Shorter picture books, shorter attention spans, shortchanging children
Post by: LindaJoy on July 13, 2015, 06:23 PM
Great comments.  Just an aside....I recently sold a picture book that I submitted with a word count of 320 words. I thought THAT was short. Five edits later and it's now 185 words. The art will carry much of the storytelling that was lost with some of the cutting. (I'm very excited by this sale, by the way, and can't wait till it's officially announced).
Title: Re: Shorter picture books, shorter attention spans, shortchanging children
Post by: Debbie Vilardi on July 20, 2015, 08:13 AM
It's interesting to think about the impact of reading on screen. My kids don't do this often. My son did so for school in third grade, but it was short stories and articles, the sort of thing you'd find in a Time for Kids. I don't think it's impacted the reading my kids do.

My eighth grader doesn't read as much as she used to. She's pressed for time. She's a CIT this summer, getting home at 4. By the time she's had snack and gotten ready for the next day, she has an hour or so to veg. She watches TV or videos on her computer. But she isn't able to read on grade level and has begun to see some reading as a chore. She'll gladly read a picture or chapter book. This is part of why kids in our generation (I'm 46) stopped reading as we aged, it became prescriptive. I wonder if that still impacts modern youth.

My ten year old will read anything he sees. I don't think that will ever change though he may hate some of the school selections. I'll have to report back in a few years and let you know. My point is the personalities and capabilities of the individual children come into play along with society's push to read harder material at a younger age. Many kids may be turned off to reading because we've made it too hard to keep up. Longer picture books filled a niche between the shorter books and the chapters. If you are struggling, engaging in a longer book becomes a chore. The pressure on our youth may be a bigger issue than attention span or online reading when it comes to explaining the need for longer books with illustration support.
Title: Re: Shorter picture books, shorter attention spans, shortchanging children
Post by: Vijaya on July 20, 2015, 08:39 AM
Aunty, those excerpts made me laugh. Thanks.

I find that when we shut off the interwebs, my kids will devour books and hang out with friends. So we continue to set a limit on our computers and their phone usage. Now that we're looking into colleges, we are all gravitating towards those which offer a great books program, even for science-y type kids like ours. My hope is that they will see how valuable it is to immerse yourself in these books.

Vijaya