Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Children's Book Corner: Beware!

As a mother of four small children, I found this recent article from the New Yorker about today's children's books to be thought provoking, especially since I own many of the books he talks about and read them often to my kids. I don't think there's any question that reading to your children is one of the greatest gifts you can give them, but is what you read worth reconsidering in some cases? I tend to insert my own ideas into books that I feel conflict with my own parenting style (like in the first Olivia book, when Olivia doesn't want to take her nap, I always add "but she does it anyway," because the last thing I need is a nap strike in my house!), at least until my kids are big enough to read them on their own.

What are your favorite children's books? And after reading this article, do you have any new thoughts on what are your least favorite?



  1. Wow, I haven't bought a kid's book in so long I think I've missed this particular phenomenon. Before everyone recoils -gasp- quelle horreur! My oldest is 19, and I have not only all HIS books, but my own childhood books I loved. And, since I have 6 other children, I have MANY books so I don't often have to run out and grab a new one.

    But, after reading that, yes, I pretty much agree with the article. *shrug* It ought to keep The Nanny show going for a few more years, at least.

  2. Having no children, I am in no position to discuss it, but in theory, I do not approve of nor understand the type of story that essentially undermines all parental authority.

    Thank you for sharing this article, it was quite enlightening.

  3. My girls LOVE Pinkalicious. I think we have read it well over a fifty times now! No kidding fifty times! There is a part in there where the Mom says, "You get what you get and you don't get upset." It's funny because now my girls say that to each other everytime the other is out of line.

  4. I'm so tired of hippie parenting I could spit beads. I love Max! And his mother.

  5. I have four children as well. Reading in our house is huge despite the fact that we all have different tastes. Right now my son is into the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. My oldest daughter loves the Goosebump books and my third daughter loves Dr. Seuss. I also have an infant that is just now discovering books. I can't wait to see what books capture her. As a family our favorites are definitely The Giving Tree and Where the Wild Things Are.


  6. Max may have been sent to bed without dinner, but his mother relents. I haven't read very many of the new behavioral picture books that were listed in the article. My kids and I love reading books by David Shannon, Mo Willems and Kevin Henkes though.

  7. kids are in their early thirties, but I loved reading "Goodnight, Moon" and "The Runaway Bunny" to them---when they were little, just to be clear. Two years ago I bought "The Teddy Bears Picnic"--for myself. And I'm 60.

  8. Awesome link. I'm a mum to three boys - my oldest is 4 and my twins are 18-months-old. And although it may not be a popular parenting approach, in our house there's no question that mum and dad are in charge. Of course the boys challenge us on a daily basis but my husband and I both believe kids are happiest when the parents are firmly in control. It's an interesting observation (and a true one) that many parents in picture books clearly aren't.

    It's great to see an article so well thought out and presented. I'm a writer of picture books and it's no surprise my own beliefs and values come through in my books. I'm also selective about what books I do read my boys and choose books that reinforce the values that our family holds dear. The portrayal of parents is certainly something I'm going to think about some more and keep in mind when I'm writing and reading. Thanks so much.

  9. I was very much into reading Winnie the Pooh stories to my son when he was young. I never really depended on books to teach lessons. I only wanted to introduce characters to my son who were good role models.

  10. We read to our kids all the time, and sometimes when they wanted us to read the books they loved, they read to us. We read a lot of series books, including the Narnia and Harry Potter boks, and they read us Debi Gliori's Pure Dead Wicked series and Herbie Brennan's Faerie Wars books. I also read them American books like Sarah, Plain and Tall, Belle Prater's Boy, and the Little House on the Prairie series, especially when they got sick. The Little Town on the Prairie will always remind me of chickenpox.

  11. Badly behaved characters -- even ones that don't get their comeuppance -- serve a purpose. They allow children to vicariously experience behaviour they wouldn't dream of exhibiting in real life.

    Stacey, I don't think you need to worry about editing "Olivia" as you read. Kids are smart, even at a young age, and they probably already know you'd rather not have a nap strike. The problem with editorializing, is our kids catch on pretty fast, and the minute they realize you're trying to instill something, they'll resist it. (As a mother of two ten year-olds and a fourteen year old, I found this out the hard way).

    My kids loved Kevin Henkes, not because of the moral content, but because his books are funny, well-written, and beautifully illustrated. They couldn't stand TV spin-off books, such as the Franklin books not written by Paulette Bourgeois, or the Little Bear books not written by Else Minarik, because they were poorly written. (They loved the original books by both those authors though).

    My main criterion in choosing books for my children was good writing (though I have to admit to succumbing to some less well-written books because of beautiful illustrations), because if I didn't enjoy reading out loud, they wouldn't enjoy it either.

  12. My favorite is You Can Do It, Sam by Amy Hest. I love reading it to my daughter! A warm book. It is full of lessons such as sharing and independence.

    My next favorite is The Ant and The Grasshopper by Toni Morrison. Very thought-provoking. My 4 year old daughter has just begun to listen and question.

    I have the book Olivia, as well. I should have done what you did. Fantastic!

    My least favorites - All books about Dora, The Explorer.