Four Children's Books I Hate to Read
There are many children’s books that I love reading to my kids: books by Sandra Boynton, Mo Willems, Mr. Rogers, and Eric Carle, for example.
Photo by Ned Horton
The following books irritate me to no end.
Fox in Socks
This book physically hurts me to read. My friend’s daughter insisted I read it to her once, and I pretty much never, ever want to read it again. I also have difficulty reading made-up words, which feature in many Dr. Seuss books. I get that they’re there to teach kids rhyming sounds, but I really feel a twinge every time I read them. It’s like I feel disloyal to real words.
Daddy & Me
I normally like Karen Katz books. They’re great for toddlers. I imagine they increase sales of clear packing tape because that’s what we use to reattach the lift-the-flap pieces our kids tear out of the books.
This book bugs me because there are a few glaring mistakes in the order in which the father and child build a doghouse. It has them cut the wood, then measure it. They put hinges on, then paint. I know it’s not intended to be a manual for actually building something, but they could have easily arranged the pages so that the steps were in the proper order. The other thing is that their workshop is a mess!
Clearly I take things too seriously, but even if kids are the target audience of a book, throw the parents a bone and at least make it less painful to read.
The Frog in the Well
This is based on a Chinese folk tale, so it’s not the author’s fault that this story is propaganda for the constant striving for MORE in contemporary society. The story depicts a frog living in a well, who thinks he’s the smartest and greatest, and he's blissfully happy. Then a turtle comes and shames him into realizing there’s a big ocean he doesn’t even know anything about.
It’s meant to warn against being narrow-minded and embracing the world of knowledge, but I want to shout at the little frog, “It’s okay to live simply and be happy! Tell that turtle to go shove it!” Of course, I want my kids to learn things, but I’d prefer they seek wisdom rather than just knowledge. Also, this pushes my button of always feeling “not enough.”
The Giving Tree
I’ll admit I’ve never read this to my kids, so I don’t know whether they’d like it or not. I see this story as a depiction of a mother giving up everything she has to provide for her son even at the cost of her own survival. I accept sacrifice as a mother, but I think children need to see their parents as independent people who take care of their own needs as well as their children's. We are caregivers, not hosts for parasites (at least after we give birth).
Which kids' books do you hate reading? Why?