Wednesday, September 10, 2008

When to keep my mouth shut

Recently I started reading a book to my six year old daughter that I thought was atrocious. She agreed, so we stopped. We even had a good conversation about why it wasn't so good - the story didn't make sense, the characters felt hollow. But there have been many times when we've been in the middle of a book which she loves, but I find lacking. And I will admit a few times I've even said something, unable to bit my tongue. So, the question is, should I keep my mouth shut and read on? Or should I express my opinion, and risk influencing hers, thus censoring what she's exposed to on some small level? I love that already she is forming ideas about what makes a story work, but I concede this may come at a cost.


  1. I have mixed feelings on this topic.... part of me believes if a child is reading, who cares what it is they're reading - Let them read. That said, however, when my son was in 5th grade I was appalled at the books assigned by his teacher - outdated, sexist, maybe not poorly written but not great either - the teacher said they were "classic" I said they were just old. So I created a reading list for my son. We went to the bookstore, picked out books (some Newberys, some not) that he was interested in. We got approval from the teacher (who to this day thinks I'm a nut) and my son happily did his reading assignments while his friends complained about their books. Did I do my son a favor? Or did I make him neurotic in some way? I suppose I'll never know. What I do know is that he enjoys reading and that's all that matters to me.

  2. I've always found with my own kids that it's better to shut up and listen. While we always want "the best" for our kids, they may just want to laugh at Captain Underpants. And I don't know about you guys, but if I questioned my kids' taste in pleasure reading, it would be interpreted at "yelling" at them. Disagree with a teenager and you're yelling. Am I right?

    I've don't read romance novels, but many other people do. And if there is one thing we agree on as a group--we often disagree about popular novels.Robin is a big fan of the Twilight series. I loved the White Darkness. Not everyone agrees with us.

  3. I think the bottom line is INTEREST. My personal guilty pleasure are the Janet Evanovitch books. Not the most literary or stimulating, but my goodness they make me LAUGH OUT LOUD.

  4. Okay, as a reading teacher, I'm a big fan of fun books. Series like Captain Underpants can be the one to hook a kid on reading. For me, Trixie Belden was my fun series. Oh how I loved those Bobwhites of Glen! It wasn't great literature, but it turned me into an avid reader (and eventually an English major who loved analyzing more traditional literature). I firmly believe that fun books are critical for each child's reading development.

    That said, with my own son-- who's not yet old enough to pick out many of his own books, I am still a bit of a literary snob. (It may seem hard to be a literary snob with board books for a two year old, but take a close look and you'll see what a lot of really bad stuff there is out there.) I look for books with excellent rhythm and rhyme and definitely ones that aren't too wordy. They have to feel special enough to read over and over again for me to take them home from the library or the bookstore.

    Interestingly enough though, my little guy has shown me that some books are much better than I thought at first glance. As we read these books over and over again, I see his great joy.

    P.S. Just let me know if you want a bibliography of excellent truck books for toddlers! : o )

  5. I can honestly say I never put a picture book down while I was reading it to my child. I definitely have my favorites though (anything by Kevin Henkes), so since I'm usually the book buyer, not much gets in that I don't like.

    But bring my daughter into the store and she wants the books with all the bells and whistles, pop-ups, lights, and familiar characters from tv shows and movies. I guess we can balance each other out.

    My son was a HUGE fan of Captain Underpants and Ricky Ricotta when he was in elementary school. While on one level it annoyed me with all the misspelled words, on the other hand I was happy he was reading. And he loved them, so that's what counts.