Literary favorites gone bad

Reading is a very important activity in our household. More for my husband than for me. He reads at the speed of light. He’s read hundreds of thousands of books in his 31 years. His parents have floor to ceiling bookshelves full of classic literature. It is a reading family. So it’s no surprise that is encouraged for our children. Our kids love to read. My son, who is 3 ½ sits for books longer than I can sit sometimes. He will listen to the longer Dr. Seuss such as Bartholomew and the Oobleck or Horton Hatches an Egg. Many books that I hear the Barnes and Noble staff recommending for 8-year olds.

I was shocked when my son asked me to read him “St. George and the Dragon” from a children’s anthology book. It was called something like Children’s Favorites. Well, in the past 3 days, I have read this story at least 3 times each day. The thing my husband and I both liked is that there were very few pictures in the book and he seemed genuinely interested in story and not the drawings. Upon further inspection of the stories though, we discovered they were not only “dumbed down,” but incorrect from the “classic fairytale” versions. The dragon doesn’t die in St. George and the Dragon. Even my son asked, where the knight’s sword was in the picture. He said, “How can he fight the dragon with no sword?” I mean, come on. Even my kid is smart enough to realize it was a joke.

What’s happened to children’s literature where anyone can write a book these days. And bad books at that. I can’t believe some of the books we have on our shelves. In fact, Andrew has taken to throwing them out. I argue that we should donate them. His response, “No child should be subjected to bad literature.” Who gave someone permission to change Little Red Riding Hood. Why can’t the hunter kill the wolf? Is there something politically incorrect about that? Who said all stories have to be about getting along? What happened to the great stories about good vs. evil?

Recommendation: Don’t buy a book until you have read it yourself. If you roll your eyes about it during the first read, believe me after 100 more you’ll want to throw that book in the trash too.

Favorite we’re reading now:
Tikki Tikki Tembo
Boxes for Katje
Animals Do the Strangest Things
Danny and the Dinosaur
One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish
Stone Soup
Curious George Books (all of the original ones)
Anno’s Counting Book
Busy, Busy Day

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