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Will Picture Books Hurt Your Child's Chances for Harvard?

Will reading picture books hurt your child's chances of getting into Harvard?
It's a crazy question, but lots of parents are weaning their little ones off picture books early because they fret that the books will stunt their children's academic growth.

Parents worry that if their children aren't early readers, they will be far behind other kids when they begin kindergarten. And falling behind in grade school could mean they will some day get rejected by their top college choices.

A recent front-page story in The New York Times chronicled this irrational trend. It's stunning to me that parents of young children believe that ditching wonderful picture books like The Hungry Little Caterpillar and Curious George will give their kids an edge in school.

My two kids, who are now in college, loved picture books like Good Night Moon, The Ugly Duckling, The Little Engine That Could and a slew of enchanting books by such authors as William Steig, Jan Brett and Eric Carle. Some of my fondest moments as a mom of young children came when I was sharing picture books with my children.

I can't imagine a better way to fuel a preschooler's imagination than exploring a picture book. At the same time, I can't think of a better way to turn students into non-readers than to foist chapter books onto young children prematurely.

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

What would a child rather explore? Cloudy With a Chance of Meatball, where the residents of Chewandswallow experience hamburger storms, mash potato snowfalls and syrup showers? Or would a preschooler rather muddle through a modern-day version of Dick and Jane, with monosyllabic words and no plots?

I cherish my own children's picture books and have them on loan to one of my sisters with a small child. One of these days I will get the books back and I hope to read them someday to grandchildren. As for all the beginning reader books that I bought or collected at yard sales? I just donated them to the Goodwill.

Lynn O'Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution and she also writes for TheCollegeSolutionBlog.
Picture book image by cafemama. CC 2.0.