Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What's Wrong with Children's Books These Days?

Well, it is another fine rainy day today, which means it is a perfect occasion for some book reading with the little man.  The only problem with this is that it is so damned hard to figure out what book we really want to read.  Generally, my plan of action is to just read them all.  They’re kid’s books, so reading them all really only takes a few hours.  I say only a few hours, but for any of you that have children, you know that a few hours is a really long friggin’ time for a little one to sit still. 

It used to be that the little man and I could just sit and read together all day.  Then the little dobber got mobile somehow.  So, now we are lucky if we can read a few books together before he starts running around the house looking for things to destroy.  Man, he is growing up so fast!  Well, I have an answer to that.  I don’t make the little man sit still while I read to him.  He is free to run around and play.  Often he just grabs a toy and sits on the floor next to me while I read to him.  It is great fun, and I think he gets a lot out of hearing me read to him too. 

It seems to me that he doesn’t seem to care much one way or the other about seeing the pictures in the book, which is a shame since the majority of children’s books rely solely on their illustrations. Sure there are a few books that actually have a story too, but those seem to be part of a dying trend which is kind of sad.  I really miss the children’s books that actually told the reader solid story.  I guess those books and that style of writing is outdated, and that is too bad really.  After talking to a few other parents that I know, I found out something that’s a little disconcerting.  Well, I didn’t really find out anything.  I more or less came to a realization that just about anyone can publish a children’s book, which is why so few of these books make any sense whatsoever.  I was hoping that the books had to fulfill some sort of requirement, but no.  I was wrong, which helps to explain why so many children’s books are so tedious for parents to read to their children.  

It isn’t that they are difficult or require any kind of focus.  They just don’t make any sense.  They leave us disappointed because there are no moral’s to the story, no plots, and often times no point.  There are quite a few of my little man’s books that just aren’t logical whatsoever.  Why is that?  Don’t our infants deserve a proper story with a proper ending?  They are young, but that doesn’t mean that they are stupid.  That’s why it seems sad to me that a large number of children’s books are based on the illustrations and not the story or in many cases the lack of one.

I firmly believe that when I read to my little man he gets more out of hearing my voice than he does out of the pictures he sees.  This is one of the reasons that my wife and I started a family reading routine every night before we go to bed.  These books definitely have stories to them though.  We are currently reading the “Golden Compass.”  Like all the previous family reading books, we chose it because it had an elementary reading level, but has a decent story line as well.  It is something we can enjoy together.  

Sure, the little man primarily hops around on top of us while we read to him, but he is still listening and enjoying it as much as we are.  He may not understand everything, but I am sure he is getting a lot out of it nonetheless.  As long as we are reading and spending time with each other and enjoying it, the story isn’t all that important.  The main goal is for us to instill a love of literature on our baby boy, and I expect that the best way to accomplish this is for us all to read together and enjoy what we are reading and the time we are spending together.   

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