The short answer to the question posed in the title is YES. Yes, we are rushing kids, pushing kids. The biggest culprit is not parental pushing, though. The real push is coming from the frenzy over levels and exiles and bands and testing and CCSS and state test benchmarks, etc. Let's think back to the National Reading Panel who, in their report, decided NOT to include reading aloud as a pillar of instruction they felt was "scientific" despite plenty of research evidence to the contrary. Then CCSS emphasizes increasingly complex texts as key even in early education. Add to this the fact that benchmarking is beginning with young students, and I think we have the perfect storm for the death of the picture book being consigned to preschool.
I do worry that parents and other caregivers are pushing kids as well. Bluemle points to possible lack of knowledge about what constitutes the picture book. I also wonder if we are seeing the first generation of parents who perhaps missed out on some of these terrific books in their OWN childhood and schooling?
Last week, my colleague Karin Perry and I spent a couple of hours talking about all manner of picture books during a presentation for K-12 librarians (and a few teachers). We had planned to proceed more quickly through this section of the presentation, but we actually slowed down and spent more time than planned since the participants seemed really engaged (and loved the idea of mentor texts, too). We even did a couple of read alouds. My colleague Rosemary Chance and I have decided to end our TLA presentation next week with a few quick picture book talks, too.
Those of us in the business (education) love picture books, read stacks of them, share them with friends and colleagues. Maybe we need to do more to spread the word so that no one rushed through them or, worse, past them?