Speaking of bad books, there are two books in my house that harass me with their awfulness.
The book on the left is my No. 1 nemesis, and of course, it’s E’s favorite. It’s not just snippets from various Disney movies. Each story is the complete movie. Like scene for scene. The stories are at least 40-50 pages long each (the print is big) and they take fooorrrrever to read. And I hate them all.
The book on the right is obnoxious but not nearly as bad as the Longest Stories Per Book Ever book. It features hide-and-seek pictures from different parts of “Finding Nemo” and one maze. Each picture used to take forever, but thankfully (?), we’ve all memorized it so it goes much faster now.
But my main problem with these books isn’t just that they’re mind-numbingly annoying — they actually make me dread reading to E. How sad is that?
Oh, there are nights when reading is a joy.
But more often than not, E. rebuffs our efforts to read “good” books, like Dr. Seuss, Maurice Sendak, and Robert McCloskey (“Make Way for Ducklings,” for example), and instead makes us read the literary equivalent of junk food (I’m looking at you “Beast’s Surprise for Belle”).
I know, I know. We’re to blame for indulging her whims and buying her such books. Well, it happened again today. This week is the Scholastic Book Fair at E’s school. And every day since Monday she’s begged for one book.
I kept telling her no all week, and to just pick another one. Needless to say, we left school every day empty-handed. But today she caught me. I was riding high on the emotions of an adorable Mother’s Day Luncheon that featured E. and her classmates singing “Mommy Loves Me” to the tune of “Jesus Loves Me,” a cute beaded bracelet she made me that was nestled in a hand-painted heart box and an abstract picture that she painted that the teacher laminated with a poem about moms.
So I caved. But boy did it make her happy.
Any Barbie Mermaid book that’s based on the movie has to be good, right? Um, sure (spoiler alert: it’s not. E. kept getting confused since the Mommy mermaid and her daughter Merliah look like they’re the same age. Actually, the entire plot is confusing even to me, but I digress). At least it came with a mermaid charm necklace with too short strings that I either have to nearly choke E. to get it around her neck or somehow find a way to keep tying, untying and retying.
I was able to talk her into one book of my choosing, though.
I forgot that the Pioneer Woman wrote a book (and it’s adorable, by the way).
So here’s what I’m wondering. Is it enough to just read to E. every night (which we do every night without fail), no matter what we’re reading? Isn’t is just important for reading to be fun for her, even if I hate the books? Or should I be making a more concerted effort to push some literary veggies at her?
I’m thinking of attempting a new strategy — she picks a book, we pick a book. So far, though, every time I’ve tried that, it’s caused a complete meltdown and just ruined the entire experience.
And please tell me I’m not the only parent who hides or “accidentally” gives away books she can’t stand anymore.
Got any books that are both fun for a preschooler and not complete crap? And please share your most-hated books so I know which ones to avoid.
And yes, I recognize the irony that I’m over-analyzing the books that we read to our daughter nightly when so many parents never read at all on the same day that head-banging-on-the-desk Time magazine cover was released. You win, Time. You win. You’ve discovered our dirty little secret — most days, most of us NEVER feel like we’re Mom enough and you know what? It has nothing to do with breastfeeding v formula. Trust us, there are a thousand other ways we make ourselves feel bad. But thanks for helping us out with that. Happy Mother’s Day to us!
I’m guilty of giving away books I hate reading to my kid, also! 🙂
My son loves visiting the library and picking out books. It’s wonderful because I am no longer spending a small fortune, we just borrow for a few weeks and then take them back. Plus, if the books are not so great, I can always say “we need to return them so we do not get fined”. LOL! Works like a charm!
He is also in that “why” stage and I cannot tell you how many THOUSANDS of questions I receive per day. When he asks me about a specific subject, I’ll say let’s go to the library and read about it!
The library used to be my salvation, too. But now Fridays are our only days we can still go anymore and those days just seem to always be filled to the brim lately. Plus, the last time I went to the library, I ended up owing them a small fortune since I could never make it back in time to return them! But I adore the library too and was actually just thinking to myself the other day that I needed to get back there soon!
Great call on using the library to answer questions … we’re constantly under barrage too and I find myself feeling dumber and dumber all the time!
I love that you wrote this post b/c we struggle with the same thing! We have given away some of the had books, given them to the grandparents and even thrown some truly awful ones away (gasp)! It also is harder now b/c our toddler knows when we are skipping words or pages so we can’t do the quick version of the book anymore. Glad we aren’t the only ones going through this!
I’ve been busted for skipping pages, too! I can’t believe the memorization skills of a toddler when it comes to a book but yet they can never remember to put their toys away, no matter who many times I ask!
There are so many books that make me actually angry because I hate them so much. We did a big purge a couple months ago but I think it’s time for another one!
So, no, you are not alone!
Diane @ DixieJulep says
I get cranky about the ones that have poor grammar or writing style. We have these two books that my son loves because they have cats in them. (That’s pretty much his litmus test for whether a book is good or not. Does it have a “kee-kee”?) The stories are cute but the writing has all these sucky redundant adverbs in them (i.e. “They all laughed happily.”) and it makes me crazy. I feel like going in and editing it with red pen. LOL
(snort) Laughing at the “they all laughed happily” line. I could ignore bad grammar; it’s those dumb princesses and their princess problem (which shoes should I wear?) that really grate on my nerves.
Why can’t my daughter just take my book suggestions? Some day I’ll love her independent streak. These days, it’s mostly used just to torture me!
Thanks for the comment! Um, and Guinness Floats? You can bet I’m clicking over to see what wonderfulness that involves!
Caroline Calcote says
We have the philosophy that all reading is good. No book or comic or magazine is forbidden or bad. This is the philosophy that I was brought up on and my parents stuck to it, even when I was discovered as a tween reading my Dad’s stash of Playboys and Penthouses in the outside storage room (why did he keep them all…boxes of the things?!). There was no judgment or recrimination, although I was embarrassed. Reading “fluff” books will instill a love of reading and that’s what is important. Cal has literally thousands of comics in the house, but he is also reading Tolkien and the newspaper constantly. It’s all good. But I do feel sorry for you with all the princess crap. At least I just have Legos and Superheroes.
I like your philosophy very much! It’s always so nice to hear from a mom a few years down the parenthood road from me. Go Cal!
Thankfully E. still has a healthy share of Star Wars books mixed in with the princess crap. I feel like Princess Leia speaking to Obie Wan Kanobe, but they really are my only hope.
LOVE the Playboy story. Hilarious!
When my kids were little, I found reading certain books out loud about as exciting as playing Candyland for the 1000th time. But I never let on. Now, as grown ups, they are all avid readers and they have fond memories of bedtime and Mom reading to them. Luckily, my Mom had let me as a child buy all the Weekly Reader books I wanted in grade school (back when they were hard cover and really good books!) so we had lots to choose from. Their favorites were ‘The Ice Cream Cone Coot and Other Rare Bird’s and ‘Mr. Willoby’s Christmas Tree’. Those were way better than the occasional Ninja Turtles or My Pretty Ponys that would sneak in.
So keep reading those annoying books to E. She will remember and bring those memories into her adulthood. Oh, and save those junk food books for her to read to her children! Revenge!
Love the idea of revenge! Clearly it’s what my in-laws did to us because we recently got several boxes of my husband’s books from childhood, too! Although, to be honest, those are some of my favorites — Where the Wild Things Are, some great Curious Georges and Muppet books from the ’70s. So maybe children’s literature will go even worse 30 years down the road and the books I hate to read to E. now will actually be much better than what’s out there!
It is funny how much even a kid as young as my 4yo gets how cool it is to read books that were her Daddy’s when he was her age. Glad to hear your kids got to do the same, too! My dad recently sent me a book from when he was a kid, too!