I'll begin with this amazing animation of "Going West" from Andersen M. Studios. I have the oddest feeling I might have blogged it before, but it's worth repeating in any case. There's other fantastic animations and textual installments on their website.
I recently read a New York Times article about the decline of picture books with sadness. Julie Bosman reports: "Parents have begun pressing their kindergartners and first graders to leave the picture book behind and move on to more text-heavy chapter books. Publishers cite pressures from parents who are mindful of increasingly rigorous standardized testing in schools."
Those who know picture books know that this originates from the common misconception that picture books are 'easier' than chapter books to read. No, picture books aren't easier to read. Picture books are a different kind of book, but some of the most amazing, complex, mind-boggling narrative comes from picture books, not to mention the additional level of interaction between illustration and text, with text often becoming illustration and thus raising the interpretive bar. The problem is, many adults continue to endorse a world view in which pictures 'dumb down' text. This is odd, when you think about it. Graphic novels are gaining ground. Books shops are stocking more and more comics. This should mean that more space can be given to picture books, not less, as members of our literate society become more and more active in reading illustrated books.
Some scholars thinking about this news (I won't name names) have suggested that eBooks may also be to blame for the decrease in interest in picture books, but I think eBooks are going to, and are already developing stunning ways to present picture books. I've blogged the Alice App a couple of times and I recently downloaded the Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's Dairy App. I was really impressed by the level of interaction the App builds into its functions and that you can even colour in the book. I still like my material picture books, but the alternative options are looking good.