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Friday, January 24, 2014

Picture Book Rant

“Let’s read Strawberry Shortcake!” my five-year old shouts.  I groan.  I comply.  I inwardly cringe every time I have to exchange the word: “berry” for “very.”  (This occurs berry often when you read the Strawberry Shortcake books.)

I beg her to let me read “Harry the Dirty Dog,” or “If You Give a Pig a Pancake.”  Doctor Seuss books are always fun.  Recently the “Pinkalicious” books have tickled my fancy, and “The Polar Express” is so gorgeous I want to reread it immediately after I finish it.  And whatever happened to “Goodnight Moon?”

I think cartoons happened to great picture books. 

Cartoons and popular toys caught our children’s attention; publishers caught on to that fact, and began to spew out a ton of what I think of as “commercial” or trademark fiction.  So, stores are full of books like:  “Barbie:  I Can Be a Baby Doctor,” where Barbie decks herself out in scrubs and high heels (!) and shadows a pediatrician, a woman who also wears heels.  We get the dreaded Strawberry Shortcake books, books that retell kids’ movies, like “Alvin and the Chipmunks,” and books based on popular kids’ shows, like “Hannah Montana,” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.” Luckily, my five year-old isn’t into mutated turtles, but she does love “Totally Spies” books based on a cartoon she hasn’t even seen.

These books aren’t all that bad.  The Scholastic company publishes many of them, and they are geared toward helping kids learn to read.  I’m sure they motivate many reluctant readers, but for me, the joy is sucked right out of reading to my child every time I have to force myself to say: “What a berry good idea!  That sounds just berry-licious!”

So, we made a new rule.  For every “trade” book I have to read, I get to choose the next one.  This way, my daughter is still exposed to the likes of Dr. Seuss, Margaret Wise Brown of “Goodnight Moon” fame, and the fun artwork of the “Fancy Nancy” books.  In addition, we can still peruse the aisles at the library and meet new book friends like: “No, David!” or “The Night I Followed My Dog.”

So, tell me your favorite picture book!  I just might want to read it to my daughter, as long as the word “berry” isn’t used in the place of “very,” and as long as there are no stiletto-wearing Barbie doll doctors.


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