I love children’s books. I saved boxes and boxes of my own and like some dumb sap gave them away to a family member or friend – I don’t remember – years ago and now I WANT THEM BACK. But I don’t remember who I gave them to, and even if I did I wouldn’t ask because I have a little more class than that, okay? Instead I would probably just play it cool and subtle and beat around the bush and stop by their house and be like, “oooh that book…that…that looks familiar! Weird,” until they got the hint and threw them back at me and pushed me out the door.
To keep up my sophisticated image, I should point out I like adult books, too. Errr…not THOSE adult books, just the ones not intended for schoolchildren. I truly enjoy a little bit of everything and I
hang on to hoard nearly everything I’ve read. I’m not too picky. If someone recommends it, I’ll try it out. Nathan, on the other hand, is a bit of a book snob. He prefers “real” literature and the classics and occasionally picks on my novel choices (although he read AND enjoyed The Hunger Games series, thank you very much). I think that’s because he’s a dork because who actually reads and enjoys War and Peace? Exactly. Dorks. In his defense, any time we plan a vacation, we immediately drive to the closest bookstore and I skip inside to stock up on reading material because I am sad to admit that’s one of the things we most enjoy and look forward to on vacation. But I digress…
I especially love that Hazel loves books. We have made a genuine effort to limit her TV watching for a lot of reasons, but mostly because it tricks us into feeling like we are better parents and that somehow limiting her access to technology makes up for our other flaws. Fortunately this – and maybe a slight genetic predisposition – has lead to her enjoying the written word. I am generally frugal, but anytime she picks up a book, I figure “what the heck?” and add it to our growing, obnoxious book collection.
Problem is, some of these books are ridiculous. Craptastic, really. I know I won’t be writing anything legitimate soon, children’s book or otherwise. But I am confident I could come up with better plots or story lines or even illustrations (I can whip up some rock solid stick people, and sometimes I even color inside the lines) than some of the garbage that makes it onto Barnes and Noble’s shelves. As luck would have it, some of the books I enjoy the least are among Hazel’s favorites. Despite my best attempts to hide or get rid of them, they just keep showing up – like a boomerang or a possessed doll or a Jehovah’s Witness.
To highlight my concern, I’ve listed a few of the offenders:
-Okay, this actually isn’t a bad book. In fact, it’s well written and sweet and memorable. But it’s DEPRESSING. The gist of the story is a mom who sings to her baby boy as he grows over the years and how it gets harder for her to see him and at the end – SPOILER ALERT – she gets sick and is going to die and he goes home sad to sing to his own baby. I suppose the author felt you are never too young to learn about the circle of life. This was one of the first books Hazel gravitated to and she has made me read it no less than 1,000 times and I cried – sobbed – the first 500 of them. It’s like, “Oh here, mom – get this great book for your kid because eventually WE ALL DIE.
-There is nothing wrong with Curious George. I like the rascally monkey and his innocent hijinks. But I hate this book because (1) Hazel makes me read it no less than 8 times per day and I wish it would go away forever and ever, and (2) when you really think about it, there’s something disturbing about the plot. George saves the day by stealing back a boy’s balloon from the naughty monkeys in the cage. Ummm, did George forget his roots? Does he really feel comfortable visiting his cousins in a locked-up viewing pen for the public to ogle and mock? Hey George, these are your kind. And watch your step with the man with the yellow hat. You’re one more stolen banana away from ending up behind bars. Perhaps I read into a bit too much, but….I can’t help but lose a little respect for George after this one.
-I have always loved Shel Silverstein, and I actually don’t DISlike this book. It was one of my favorites growing up. But as Nathan pointed out while reading it to Hazel one evening, the main character basically hacks away at and takes advantage of his tree “friend” until they are both left old and with nothing but each other. Another happy-go-lucky plot. Giving is something we all need to do more of, but why must the tree be such a martyr? Life is hard, you don’t have to dismember your friend to make it better. Maybe Shel just wanted to teach kids not to be selfish brats. And not to waste paper. I don’t know.
-Just….wow. We don’t own this book, but I’ve seen it in a couple different places and I have to wonder, did anyone really READ the title or LOOK at the cover before they sent it off to the printers for mass publication? I admire their good intentions and all, but this is just….terrible. And why is the jerk off to the left laughing at the child in the wheelchair? Not cool, orange shirt kid. Maybe you should read the book and take some notes.
And the grand finale:
-Gross. No caption needed, really. Another book we THANKFULLY do not own, but is able to be purchased on the world wide web. Christmas present, maybe?
I should point out Hazel has lots and lots of great books that I enjoy reading almost as much as her. Sometimes I wonder if she actually enjoys being read to or just utilizes this opportunity as a procrastination tool. Either way, I’m okay with it.
Now if I could just find my Goosebumps collection…