Thank God My Kids Aren't Toddlers

There are a couple of reasons why I’m glad that my two children, who are both in college, aren’t toddlers.

One reason is obvious. I don’t think I’d have the energy today to chase toddlers around.

The second reason occurred to me last week when I reading a story in The New York Times entitled, Picture Books No Longer a Staple for Children.

The article explained that parents of young children are abandoning picture books like The Velveteen Rabbit, Madeline and The Runaway Bunny because they worry that their children won’t be able to compete in grade school — and eventually get into great colleges — if they spend too much time on books with few words. Instead, parents are pushing preschoolers to start reading chapter books.

In a blog post that I wrote for CBSMoneyWatch this week, I made this observation:

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.

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?

So why am I glad that my kids aren’t toddlers? I wouldn’t want to be raising my kids during a time when parents are so paranoid about college that they have turned picture books into the enemy. How warped.

Lynn O’Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution, an Amazon best seller, and she also writes for CBSMoneyWatch.

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  1. Hi M,

    Thanks for your comment about the health of picture books. I hope you are right! And I agree about the NYT’s unfortunate obsession with all things Ivy League.

    Lynn O’Shaughnessy

  2. no curious george? no dr. seuss? my boys’ formative years would have been stunted without them.
    seems that many parents are chasing THEIR dream, instead of nurturing their children’s youth, imagination and sense of wonder. i see this not only in the classroom, but also in sports and other activities that are supposed to be fun, instead turning it into work. there is more than enough competition and seriousness in life – let them be kids…let them laugh and be silly, if they choose to. harvard, yale or dartmouth can wait.

    1. Hi Bill,

      I completely agree with your comments. And, I should add, what is life without Dr. Seuss ? I have to mention Dr. Seuss because I live in San Diego where he lived!

      Lynn O’Shaughnessy