Friday, June 20, 2008

Get Your Television Out of My Books!

Charlotte Mason though that books that are dumbed down insult the child's intelligence. She called them "twaddle."

On the other hand, I will read my children almost any book they hand me. I read book after book about trucks, shapes, numbers, and other tedious topics. I draw the line, however, at printed transcripts of television shows or blatant advertisements for expensive toys.

I don't have any definitive evidence of this, but it must be counterproductive to use television characters to lure children into reading. Read them quality books and they will want to read more books; read Dora books and they will want to turn on the television. And the books are BORING. The storylines are trite, the vocabulary infantile, and the illustrations awful.

Unfortunately, these books are EVERYWHERE -- grocery store endcaps, fast-food giveaways, and even at bookstores. Well-meaning relatives continually present Agent 002 with Disney-Pixar Cars themed books, which is at least better than the Disney-princess books given to Agent 004.

Look at the current selection of books available from Scholastic:
Filled with twaddle!

I do make an exception for Grover (The Monster at the End of this Book, Grover's Resting Places and Hide and Seek are three of the best books I know), and of course Curious George was in books before he hit the big screen (although oddly enough we prefer the newer books done "in the style of" H.A. Rey like the ones in this treasury).

So maybe the distinction is Mason-like; I avoid meaningless books, preferring books with good narration and superior illustrations. Even if they do feature a furry blue monster or an inquisitive monkey.


Kari Wright said...

I wholeheartedly agree. We have a disney treasury that stays tucked away in the closet and soon will head to the giveaway box. I really don't like reading books that are exactly like the movie either. I'd rather watch a fun movie and read a good book, they can't both be the same!

Gettysburg Mom said...

I absolutely loved The Monster at the End of this Book when I was a kid...I've read it to my kids & didn't know anybody else remembered it! Such a good book.

Kate in NJ said...

Ugh..we have those "Princess" books too. My sis also bought P a bunch of "Dora" twaddle. We have a basket of twaddle she can flip through if she wants, but I won't read them to her...I need a quality read. ;-)

Anonymous said...

I'm totally with you here!!!! My daughter wanted me to read a Dora book last night and I just couldn't take it -- what drivel.

I found Barefoot Books last fall, and loved them so much I decided to start selling them. Barefoot is an independent children's book publisher. I could go on forever about them, but check out the website. (They also have an affiliate program, so let me know if you like what you see). or click on the Barefoot link in the sidebar of my blog.

(I'm commenting really late because I just found you from WFMW post yesterday)

And by the way, I used to LOVE The Monster At the End of this Book -- I'll have to dig it up at my mom's house!! Thanks for the memory!