But people, we are forgetting one important thing here: This is The New York Times. And in terms of children’s and young adult literature, this is what they do. Some writer comes up with a topic in this field, within which they know very little. They “research” that topic with a few interviews, an observation or two, and a quote from Man on the Street. Or in this case, Parent in the Bookstore.1
They’ve done this with the topic of Young Adult literature being too dark. They’ve done this with summer reading lists being too light. They’ve done this with The Catcher in the Rye being useless for today’s teens. And with Twilight as the defining book for our generation. Or profiling a family that blogs about children’s books as being this amazingly unique concept.
People, people, people, we need to realize that it doesn’t matter.
I’ll be the biggest defender of picture books. I’m the organizer of the Cybils Fiction Picture Book category, for goodness’ sake. I have an article about the value of that literature for kids. I can attest personally to the growth I’ve seen in the quality of books of the picture variety.
But am I surprised if it turns out to be true that, in a down economy, people are buying fewer picture books than they were before? Um, no. Guess what? People are buying a lot less of everything in a down economy. And while I’ll protest forever the parents who chastise their kid for choosing a picture book in the library as being too babyish, I can understand the mindset of an economizing parent who, when purchasing a book, wants to find one that will last a little bit longer. Hey, we do it with shoes and it works.
Sure, we can lose our collective shit for the next week addressing this article. But I’d rather keep talking about children’s and young adult literature based on what we know, understand, and research with far more authority than one reporter in one big paper with one little story.
Though if you feel like you must write something, perhaps try a piece on the terrible state of newspaper reporting based on, say, the article in the New York Times. At least it will be payback for all the crap they’ve given us.
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