I like to indoctrinate my children with books that I like – you know; ones with awesome humour, great illustrations, exceptional storytelling and nostalgic prowess…books that will enhance my children’s natural brilliance because, of course, they are all naturally brilliant. And momma knows best.
But on the occasion my 6-, 4- and 2-year old stumble across books that they like better and because, as you may have noticed, I am a liberal minded individual; I allow them to indulge…even at the expense of my sanity.
Like John Snow, those medieval guys knew nothing because there is nothing quite like the torture of reading a NOT kickass book…over and over and over again! Every day. Every night. All the time. Gimme the rack, rather – or that one where goats lick the skin off your feet.
And so, if you see a hint of the ensuing pages lurking, waiting to pounce from under the safety of birthday wrapping or from the anonymity of the library shelf – take them and slaughter them…immediately.
One Mole Digging A Hole (Julia Donaldson): A story about various animals doing garden work. Kill me now. The book is simple, perfect for a 2-year-old, but its easy learnability (my son knows it by rote) turns it into an annoying obsession. The biggest mistake parents will make with this jihadi of a book is to underestimate its modest countenance. Take it from one who knows; ‘One Mole’ comes straight out of the pits of Mordor…no matter where I hide it, my son will find it – and it will attack my mental state with the fervour of an overeager terrorist. Its only redeeming feature is that it’s short.
Blue Kangaroo (Emma Chichester Clark): A little girl throws a pink-themed party, which offends her blue kangaroo. Blue Kangaroo goes upstairs and sulks. Little girl realises her cuddly is missing – finds him on her bed, wallowing in the throes of depression. And so she changes her pink outfit to something blue. Problem solved. The only way to make this book remotely entertaining is to substitute ‘Kangaroo’ with ‘Quagga’ and ‘blue’ with…pretty much any other adjective (although ‘putrid’ is my favourite), turning something soppy into something sensational.
Anything Disney: How to ruin a film: re-tell the story in ten pages…*ehem* Disney. Screw character development and clever wordplay…cinema’s already sold the book. And the worst thing about reading a list of events that your children already know is that your children already know them, which makes a casual ‘page skip’ virtually impossible.
read it yourself Rapunzel (Ladybird): If there was an award for a book mentioning the word ‘lettuce’ the most times in the fewest pages, this book would win – to the detriment of the story’s fluidity and enjoyability. The good news is: your child will never ever forget how to read, write or spell ‘lettuce’ – a handy word to know in the life and times of being 6.
Squirrel Nutkin (Beatrix Potter): At the risk of a good lynching – this book is genuinely cray…as in: once there was a squirrel who liked to harass an old brown owl with random, seemingly offensive, unfunny rhymes…
Old Mr. B! Riddle-me-ree!
Hitty Pitty within the wall,
Hitty Pitty without the wall;
If you touch Hitty Pitty,
Hitty Pitty will bite you!
Uh-huh! Beatrix, dear – what were you smoking?
Eventually “Old Brown carried Nutkin into his house, and held him up by the tail, intending to skin him…” – don’t blame you, dude; sucks that Nutkin got away! You’d have done the world a favour.
Warning served! The plague is preferable to any of the above.
…p.s. Julia Donaldson – you’re awesome! Seriously. You too, Beatrix!