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Things I Hate: Bad Children’s Books | Teeny Manolo

Things I Hate: Bad Children’s Books

Forget your teen journal, where you scribbled away late at night before bedtime.

Some of the worst writing ever is to be found in children’s books.

I’m not exactly sure how these verses ever got past an editor, but it seems that even the most tortured of rhymes and the most illogical of scenarios are allowable if the only people reading them are kids.

Except, they aren’t, because the adults usually have to read the books aloud first, all in the name of promoting literature.

Take, for example, a book that belonged to the Munchkin, and has survived to be experienced by his sister. I abhor reading this book, but because it has such excellent touch-and-feel elements, I grit my teeth and try to make the best of a bad situation.

Here are some of my least favorite sections:

When Violet’s in her jammies and she’s ready for her bed.
She curls under a warm, soft quilt, a pillow for her head.

I ask you, how in the world can it be a pillow for her head if she is under the freaking thing?  It bugs me every time.

Come into Violet’s living room and touch her big round chair!
The curtains, blown in the summer’s wind, are smooth like Violet’s hair.

The author really had to stretch to make that one fit the meter. Awkward.

Or how about this one from another book, which is also visually very fascinating, so I had to keep it. But oy, the wording!

“Cluck, cluck, cluck,” says mother hen, “save some food for me.”
“Of course I will,” says Freddie, “If you lay an egg for my tea.”

Oh great, so extortion is now what they’re teaching kids these days, eh? Nice to know.

This book is an always-popular lift-the-flap, but the person who wrote it (the same author as the first mind-numbing book above) must have sat there for weeks trying to reconcile this next verse, and she doesn’t even really succeed.

The desert sand is dry and white.
But elephants? Nowhere in sight!
A cactus shades a brown lizard,
An armadillo, coyotes, little birds.

I cringe every time I have to mangle the word “lizard” to make it even close.

Listen, I know not everyone can be a Theodore Geisel, but can the publishing world be a bit more discriminating?  Please?

Think of the children!

5 Responses to “Things I Hate: Bad Children’s Books”

  1. Obi-Wandreas November 2, 2010 at 6:54 am #

    “Cluck, cluck, cluck,” says mother hen, “save some food for me.”
    “Of course I will,” says Freddie, “If you lay an egg for my tea.”

    What I find most disturbing is not the extortion, but the cannibalism.

  2. La Petite Acadienne November 2, 2010 at 8:15 am #

    I know what you mean. If I’m reading a book out loud and the grammar is crap, I’ll change it. I’m sure that writing kids’ books isn’t EASY, but they tend to not be lengthy books, so why can the authors/editors not do a better job with the language?

  3. class factotum November 2, 2010 at 9:07 am #

    I volunteer at a head-start type program where I read to 3, 4 and 5 year olds. The newer books are horrible. They always have to Teach A Lesson and it’s usually a stupid, condescending lesson about sharing. (Another issue, but I don’t see why a kid should be forced to share his toys with someone else. We don’t make adults do that – why should kids have to?)

    I always look for the older books: Dr Seuss, Where the Wild Things Are, etc. No lessons! Just fear and subversion!

  4. CM November 8, 2010 at 3:06 pm #

    I’ve learned to avoid rhyming books now that my son isn’t a baby anymore. Those Baby Einstein books are the worst.

    Two good new books we read recently are “The Bog Baby” and “Gracie and Grandma and the Itsy Bitsy Seed.”

  5. marvel November 8, 2010 at 10:00 pm #

    We’ve just discovered “Llama llama red pajama” and “Llama llama mad at mama.” They are a little young for the kindergartener but they are perfect for the toddler.