A Not So Love Affair With Books

by The Momma on October 20, 2010

I love books. I started reading at an early age and have been a bookworm since then, even choosing my major (English) and my career (publishing) so that I could be around books as much as possible. You can imagine, then, how much stock I place in reading for the Noodle. You can imagine how much of my pregnancy was spent fantasizing about reading with him, sharing not only all of the classics, but also the popular & pretty modern books. I would stand in the children’s section of Barnes & Noble, looking with longing at all the lovely and colorful books, waiting with anticipation until we could share them.

Which is why it pains me so much to admit–there are a LOT of really crappy kids books. Like, I’d rather dig my eyes out with a spoon than read them again bad. Books that are poorly written, badly rhymed or paced. Books with horrible art. Books that are of…questionable subject matter. All I wanted was a little reading time with my  little boy, to share my love of books with him. I didn’t quite expect to face so many landmines!

The worst one so far, the one that drives me to drink? Have You Seen My Cat by Eric Carle. It kills me to say that, knowing how well loved Eric Carle is, but seriously, this book makes me want to hurt things. The version we have is a board book, with sliding pages for all the cats, and dear lord do I hate it. In case you haven’t seen it, let me spoil it for you: it’s like 14 pages of “have you seen my cat?” and 13 pages of “This is not my cat”.  And…cue me throwing the book across the room.

At first, I would read the whole thing. Then, I starting skipping pages. Finally, I…uh…misplaced the book. It can come back out and play when the Noodle can figure the sliders out on his own, but I just can’t read it anymore. I can’t find an way to say Have You Seen My Cat? without losing my mind. I don’t care where your freakin cat is kid, and why hasn’t that puma eaten you yet?

I’m sure it’s a great book for kids–the simple repetitive text, interesting illustrations, simple story all make it seem perfect. But if it’s going to lead to violence from me, maybe it’s not the best book after all?

Surely I’m not alone in having a book I just.can’t.stand. How about you?

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Megan October 20, 2010 at 9:40 am

Eric Carle is hit and miss for me. I like some of the classics like “Brown Bear” and that hungry ass caterpillar.

But, “Today is Monday” makes me want to die a thousand deaths. WTF is that book even about? I sure as hell don’t know.

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The Daddy October 21, 2010 at 5:55 pm

The Hungry Caterpillar rocks. Plus, to me his graphic style pushes just to the edge of madness. I remember loving that book and also kinda being a little terrified of that hungry bug. The Cat book? Crap.

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A Daddy Blog October 20, 2010 at 10:09 am

I must concur. As a kid I was a voracious reader. In school I always had a book tucked inside my text book during classes. I read Jules Verne and his ilk as a teen. And now that we have our own child I have read to her nightly these past 26 months sense she graced our lives. And you are right, there are some really awful books. Some are in our possession due to well meaning family and friends. Some they wrote on the inside covers were their children’s favorites. One of came from part of the Seuss juggernaut, though clearly had no input from him. There are some that I could write a masters thesis on they are so good, but most sadly are tolerable at best. Nice to meet you, btw. You friended (I suppose that will become a word soon) me on Twitter recently. Love your blog. I’ll be back. To be clear, that was NOT said with a Schwarzenegger accent. Later!

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A Daddy Blog October 20, 2010 at 10:11 am

p.s. I’m sure there were plenty of other typos in my comment just now, but as I hit enter and it was just beyond the point no return my eye caught the phrase “sense she graced our lives” [sic]… I do know better. I’m going to hit enter and leave before I see more errors. Anal, who… me?

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The Momma October 20, 2010 at 8:21 pm

Some of the “Seuss library” that clearly aren’t original to the good Dr. are some of the worst! (I feel like that’s illegal to say as a book person and a mom, but there it is). Things like that though almost make them worse, because there ARE such classics in there. Ah well, I guess there are bad books and good books for every genre, kids books included.

Glad you came by–hope to see you around again :-)

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A Daddy Blog October 21, 2010 at 10:20 am

‘A bad penny always turns up.’ I’ll be back. I showed my wife your blog last night, so I’m sure she’ll be following you two soon, too. She’s the owner of http://milkandcuddles.com. Have a great day!

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Alexis October 20, 2010 at 10:43 am

I love kids book too, but totally agree that some are just awful. I find that we stick with certain authors (Brown, Meyer, etc.) so as to avoid the duds out there. As for the books I may have hidden/”lost”: Brown Bear, Brown Bear and a little gem called Baby Day I can recite from memory, just to name a few. You are not alone in this…somewhere these is an island of misfit, over-read books just waiting for mommies and daddies all over the planet to recover and reclaim them. Hmmm…..maybe I should write a book about that…

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The Momma October 20, 2010 at 8:21 pm

I love the idea of a planet of misfit books!

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Katherine October 20, 2010 at 10:49 pm

My brother’s favorite book was about trains. As in, “This is the engine it powers the train….This is the box car…” I’m surprised my parents don’t still have nightmares.

And I hate Caillou. Should I have a child, a Caillou book will not enter my house.

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ABDPBT October 22, 2010 at 9:42 pm

We have a few Eric Carle ones here that I’m not too fond of, but the worst are some of the ones they’ve got at preschool. There are a few that are like African tribal legend tales or something — Mini has got a talent for picking the LONGEST book possible out (because he knows I’m leaving once the book is over), and it’s always some tedious book with a difficult to understand plot and obscure foreign cultural referents that I’m forced to try to explain to him at 7:30 am.

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The Momma October 25, 2010 at 3:39 pm

That Mini is a wily one!

I used to work for a company that sold a lot of those “cultural” books–and whew, some of those have got to be sheer torture to read out loud. There was one that was all about some Mayan (I think) stories and every other word was like 9 syllables long and completely impossible to wrap your tongue around. Working with that at 7:30 in the morning sounds horrible.

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clara October 28, 2010 at 9:18 pm

I have shocked myself by reading entire books to my kids while thinking about other things AT THE SAME TIME. I did not know it was possible to do this, and yet, my brain wants to dissociate itself from Toy Story (By Disney)(I’m serious, there is no writer credit) and Winnie The Pooh Eats a Blackberry (Also By Disney)(fuck my life) so badly that it can actually read out loud without missing any words (the kids would totally point it out) and also, simultaneously, think about dinner, going back to work, and local politics.

Sometimes, when I find a kids’ book I love at the library I cry.

Like this one http://www.amazon.com/Dimity-Dumpty-Humptys-Little-Sister/dp/0763630780

Love this new blog. It’s funny as hell.

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