Really? Hating on Children’s Books?

Someone needs a hug.

A post on HuffPo late last night caught my attention, as does anything book-related. It’s title? “Children’s Books Parents Either Love or Hate.”

Intrigued, I clicked on the article and slideshow of a handful of classics, and was immediately struck dumb at the notion anyone thinks “The Giving Tree” is controversial. The author says this about the Shel Silverstein classic:

My personal top contender for this list. I know some people take away the heart warming message of a parents’ limitless love for a child, but all I see is a story of a mother willing to literally let her child chop her into pieces. He sells her apples when he needs money, takes her branches to built shelter, using her trunk to built a boat to sail far away (from her.) When that journey doesn’t go so well he comes back and sits on her stump. And not once does he say thank you.

Really? REALLY? I wish I could take her out for what is probably a much-needed kid break and cup of coffee. I don’t think her opinion is invalid, but c’mon … that sounds like the answer you would give when trying to gain access to the “Cup is Half-Empty” club. He doesn’t once say “thank you?” Yeah, that kid’s a real asshole. Yeesh.

Next up, The Rainbow Fish. Here’s what the author said:

Yes, it is a beautiful book, with those shimmery fish scales and all. But the story — of how the hero of the fish tale gives away all those scales to his fish friends so they will like him, is really a mixed up warning not to be different.

A mixed up warning not to be different? The message I got was that too much bling is tacky. Spread the sparklies, I say.

I have to admit, I agree with the author’s stance on “The Little Match Girl” and “Junie B. Jones”—although my loathing of Jones is less about her being annoying and more about Barbara Park’s complete disregard for appropriate grammar in the name of making the text more accessible to young readers. But she lost me when she dragged “Olivia” into the mix. You want to hate on the cutest pig in modern literature? Blasphemy!

Say what you will, but my guess is this article leans far into the snark in order to provoke discussion. Mission accomplished. My only concern is that parents would avoid some of these wonderful, WONDERFUL books just because someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed and decided to read way too much into some of the best books a kid could own.

2 thoughts

    1. If I were feeling particularly jaded, I can see where the author is coming from on each point. And I know what you’re saying. But here’s how I justify it in my mind—if I am reading “Runaway Bunny” to my sweet baby girl headed off to kindergarten, that’s one thing. She needs to feel loved and protected and not worried about taking a step outside her comfort zone, knowing her momma’s got her back. If I’m reading “Runaway Bunny” to my 16-year-old son before he heads out on a date? Yeah, that’s creepy.

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