Author Topic: What is up with children's books  (Read 31669 times)

Kitsune

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Re: What is up with children's books
« Reply #50 on: November 06, 2015, 07:42:16 PM »
Of course the downside to having readers in the family is that they read - instead of doing homework, chores, etc.  And they read things you might not want them to - I read Stranger in a Strange Land at 16 (and haven't killed anyone yet, although I do have a list) - my parents would have been shocked.

I read Friday in grade 6. Didn't actually register the bits about threesomes and poly relationships until I re-read it in my 20s, though...

okits

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Re: What is up with children's books
« Reply #51 on: November 06, 2015, 08:10:08 PM »
My son got $5 from his grandma for Halloween. We were at Sam's, and I said he might use his money to buy a book. He picked up The Dork Diaries. I resisted the urge to inform him that this was a "girl's book." He bought it, read it, and enjoyed it. Two days later, after the girl next door eyed it and wanted to borrow it, he said, "I think the Dork Diaries are for girls and The Diaries of a Wimpy Kid are for boys." So, yes, books for elementary kids are also pretty gendered. I try to buck that trend by buying my boys Ramona Quimby and Little House. I think Anne of Green Gables will be added to the mix soon as well.

Really, really good of you to get him that book!  Not cool that society was somehow eventually going to try and correct him anyway though.  We did have sort of the same thing a long time ago with "Hardy Boys" versus "Nancy Drew" books, I guess.  It just seems so marked now?  Years ago one of my nephews really wanted an Easy Bake Oven.  Family was surprised the toy had changed from the long-standing yellow to neon pink.  There was some parental debate about it.  They eventually managed to find him a "Spooky Bake Oven" at Christmas.   It came in neon green and all the pie pans had the shapes of insects.  :/

Your family can rest easy, should another nephew want an Easy Bake oven.  For the low, low price of $62.99 CAD you can buy a silver-blue-black version that is less threatening to anyone's gender identity.  Sold right alongside the hot pink one.  :)

(Walked through Toys R Us today.)

SpeedReader

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Re: What is up with children's books
« Reply #52 on: November 06, 2015, 09:29:11 PM »
I was just talking today with a friend about how fortunate I was that my parents didn't moderate my reading.  My aunt gave me "Interview with the Vampire" when I was twelve because she'd read it and knew I would enjoy it. 

nht

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Re: What is up with children's books
« Reply #53 on: November 07, 2015, 10:00:28 AM »
We have some decent classic books from Chick-fil-a kid meals.  That's the only time I buy kids meals from them.  I also buy McDonalds kids meals sometimes for My Little Pony figures because they're pretty decent and my girls like them.

cavewoman

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Re: What is up with children's books
« Reply #54 on: November 07, 2015, 10:42:42 AM »
There are certainly tons of corporate-branded kids books, but that is nothing new--kids' books based on branded TV or even radio characters go back way into the 20th century.



You will get rid of my copy of "The Monster at the End of This Book" only if you are able to pry it out of my cold, dead hands.

/Grover from "Sesame Street"
//best Little Golden Book ever
Oh you sent me right into a nostalgic fog! I LOVED that book as a kid. I'm pretty sure I read it long past the recommended age. How did it last so long? You would think once you knew the surprise it would be over, but I have very happy thoughts tied to the last line. Oh Grover.

« Last Edit: November 07, 2015, 10:51:22 AM by cavewoman »

RetiredAt63

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Re: What is up with children's books
« Reply #55 on: November 07, 2015, 11:05:24 AM »
I have to admit, when I read Friday, my biggest reaction was the politics - what!!! Canada split into fragments!!!  NOOOOOO!!!! 

I know what you mean about skipping parts because your age just isn't ready for it - I read The Witch of Blackbird Pond when I was 12 - the love interest went right over my head.  I liked the historical insights even at 12, though. And I didn't realise I was in the category "reading ahead of grade level" until it saw it on the book report list in Grade 9 as one of the more advanced books.

To sort of get back on topic, parents whose kids are reading books they think are "too advanced", don't worry, the kids will get something out of it, and the parts they aren't ready for will be ignored.
Of course the downside to having readers in the family is that they read - instead of doing homework, chores, etc.  And they read things you might not want them to - I read Stranger in a Strange Land at 16 (and haven't killed anyone yet, although I do have a list) - my parents would have been shocked.

I read Friday in grade 6. Didn't actually register the bits about threesomes and poly relationships until I re-read it in my 20s, though...

Tacosrocket

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Re: What is up with children's books
« Reply #56 on: November 08, 2015, 10:37:35 PM »
You might enjoy this children's book, it's quite cute =^.^=

http://www.harpercollins.com/childrens/feature/petethecat

GuitarStv

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Re: What is up with children's books
« Reply #57 on: November 09, 2015, 07:12:39 AM »
My son got $5 from his grandma for Halloween. We were at Sam's, and I said he might use his money to buy a book. He picked up The Dork Diaries. I resisted the urge to inform him that this was a "girl's book." He bought it, read it, and enjoyed it. Two days later, after the girl next door eyed it and wanted to borrow it, he said, "I think the Dork Diaries are for girls and The Diaries of a Wimpy Kid are for boys." So, yes, books for elementary kids are also pretty gendered. I try to buck that trend by buying my boys Ramona Quimby and Little House. I think Anne of Green Gables will be added to the mix soon as well.

Really, really good of you to get him that book!  Not cool that society was somehow eventually going to try and correct him anyway though.  We did have sort of the same thing a long time ago with "Hardy Boys" versus "Nancy Drew" books, I guess.  It just seems so marked now?  Years ago one of my nephews really wanted an Easy Bake Oven.  Family was surprised the toy had changed from the long-standing yellow to neon pink.  There was some parental debate about it.  They eventually managed to find him a "Spooky Bake Oven" at Christmas.   It came in neon green and all the pie pans had the shapes of insects.  :/

Your family can rest easy, should another nephew want an Easy Bake oven.  For the low, low price of $62.99 CAD you can buy a silver-blue-black version that is less threatening to anyone's gender identity.  Sold right alongside the hot pink one.  :)

(Walked through Toys R Us today.)

Jesus.  For that price you could just buy him a real microwave.

infogoon

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Re: What is up with children's books
« Reply #58 on: November 09, 2015, 07:51:56 AM »
I have to admit, when I read Friday, my biggest reaction was the politics - what!!! Canada split into fragments!!!  NOOOOOO!!!! 

All the recent talk from Presidential candidates about "free higher education" keeps reminding me of Friday, where California's response to the higher earning potential of college graduates is to pass a law awarding every citizen an automatic bachelor's degree.

I'm surprised nobody has proposed that yet.

MandalayVA

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Re: What is up with children's books
« Reply #59 on: November 09, 2015, 08:38:22 AM »
I was just talking today with a friend about how fortunate I was that my parents didn't moderate my reading.  My aunt gave me "Interview with the Vampire" when I was twelve because she'd read it and knew I would enjoy it.

My mother made a nominal attempt at moderation but since she didn't hide books she pretty much failed.  Let's put it this way--I learned what a snuff film was from one of her Sidney Sheldon novels.  When I was SEVEN. 

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Re: What is up with children's books
« Reply #60 on: November 09, 2015, 12:36:26 PM »
I was just talking today with a friend about how fortunate I was that my parents didn't moderate my reading.  My aunt gave me "Interview with the Vampire" when I was twelve because she'd read it and knew I would enjoy it.

My mother made a nominal attempt at moderation but since she didn't hide books she pretty much failed.  Let's put it this way--I learned what a snuff film was from one of her Sidney Sheldon novels.  When I was SEVEN.

Oh my gosh, when I was not much older, my parents let the three of us go to an amusement park on our own. Let's say we were fourteen, ten, and seven, perhaps? Anyway, my father gave us this super-scary talk about how if we got separated at the amusement park or were incautious in the public bathrooms, we would be kidnapped and used for snuff films. (He did not use the term, and to be fair, he left the sex out of it. Just told us we would be murdered on videotape. Thanks, Dad.)

sheepstache

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Re: What is up with children's books
« Reply #61 on: November 09, 2015, 01:35:21 PM »
I have to admit, when I read Friday, my biggest reaction was the politics - what!!! Canada split into fragments!!!  NOOOOOO!!!! 

All the recent talk from Presidential candidates about "free higher education" keeps reminding me of Friday, where California's response to the higher earning potential of college graduates is to pass a law awarding every citizen an automatic bachelor's degree.

I'm surprised nobody has proposed that yet.

Considering how many jobs list that as a requirement for jobs that realistically only need a highschool education, that seems reasonable...

TheGrimSqueaker

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Re: What is up with children's books
« Reply #62 on: November 09, 2015, 02:54:55 PM »
Re: gender specific toys and books

I think I've figured it out... it's a purely financial corporate decision to make sure there are fewer hand-me-downs.

If kids and parents can be programmed to reject toys or books for the "wrong" gender, people can be induced to buy a bunch of new disposable crap for each child, instead of passing on favorite toys that still work.

Consider: a family with both a boy and a girl could potentially be manipulated into buying two Easy-Bake ovens.

Lizzy B.

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Re: What is up with children's books
« Reply #63 on: November 10, 2015, 08:26:49 AM »
DD is all grown up now, but you are reminding me of all our bedtime reading. 

Arthur Ransome - fun, good vocabulary, assume children have brains and like doing things.  I loved his Swallows and Amazons - girls and boys doing fun things without helicopter parents, in 1929, imagine!  And sailing!


I was SO hoping someone would mention Swallows and Amazons here. They are absolutely fantastic. I think the Boxcar Children borrowed heavily on Ransome's plots, but the original is so much better. I re-read these books recently and they hold up really well. (Well, other than one character being named Tity.)

They are chapter books, so a little complex for the super young ones, but SO much fun. My parents read them to me, and my Mom's parents read them to her.

Kitsune

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Re: What is up with children's books
« Reply #64 on: November 10, 2015, 09:07:51 AM »
Re: gender specific toys and books

I think I've figured it out... it's a purely financial corporate decision to make sure there are fewer hand-me-downs.

If kids and parents can be programmed to reject toys or books for the "wrong" gender, people can be induced to buy a bunch of new disposable crap for each child, instead of passing on favorite toys that still work.

Consider: a family with both a boy and a girl could potentially be manipulated into buying two Easy-Bake ovens.

Oh, absolutely.

Because god knows what would happen should a boy use a *gasp* PINK toy hammer, right?

RetiredAt63

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Re: What is up with children's books
« Reply #65 on: November 12, 2015, 04:29:58 PM »
My DD wore her cousins' hand-me-downs when she was little - her cousins were boys and my sister couldn't believe I would want boy colours for a girl (navy and black mostly).  ?!?!?

At least the pink handled tools (hammers, pliers, etc.) at the hardware stores are that colour so the guys won't walk off with our tools.   ;-)

Re: gender specific toys and books

I think I've figured it out... it's a purely financial corporate decision to make sure there are fewer hand-me-downs.

If kids and parents can be programmed to reject toys or books for the "wrong" gender, people can be induced to buy a bunch of new disposable crap for each child, instead of passing on favorite toys that still work.

Consider: a family with both a boy and a girl could potentially be manipulated into buying two Easy-Bake ovens.

Oh, absolutely.

Because god knows what would happen should a boy use a *gasp* PINK toy hammer, right?

Kitsune

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Re: What is up with children's books
« Reply #66 on: November 13, 2015, 07:59:23 AM »
??? Especially when they're crawling, why would you buy pants in ANY colour that isn't black, navy, or charcoal grey - everything else just gets stained and looks grubby!

(Exception being when they're under 4 months: then you buy light colours, because otherwise the slightest bit of spit-up shows up like mad)

My DD wore her cousins' hand-me-downs when she was little - her cousins were boys and my sister couldn't believe I would want boy colours for a girl (navy and black mostly).  ?!?!?

At least the pink handled tools (hammers, pliers, etc.) at the hardware stores are that colour so the guys won't walk off with our tools.   ;-)


shelivesthedream

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Re: What is up with children's books
« Reply #67 on: November 15, 2015, 01:55:50 AM »
DD is all grown up now, but you are reminding me of all our bedtime reading. 

Arthur Ransome - fun, good vocabulary, assume children have brains and like doing things.  I loved his Swallows and Amazons - girls and boys doing fun things without helicopter parents, in 1929, imagine!  And sailing!


I was SO hoping someone would mention Swallows and Amazons here. They are absolutely fantastic. I think the Boxcar Children borrowed heavily on Ransome's plots, but the original is so much better. I re-read these books recently and they hold up really well. (Well, other than one character being named Tity.)

They are chapter books, so a little complex for the super young ones, but SO much fun. My parents read them to me, and my Mom's parents read them to her.

Yes yes yes to Swallows and Amazons! I too re-read them recently and was delighted that they are as adventurous as I remember them. My husband didn't read them as a child but he's hooked now, and one thing he pointed out is that there is never any mention of toys. Roger must be pretty young (seven?) but none of them have "pretend" anything or ever talk about it. I love how seriously they take everything as well, with John wanting to be as good a sailor as Daddy and them all wanting Mother to be proud of how they have done. Even as a child I thought that it was the childhood I desperately wanted but could never have, which made me sad, but at least I could double-layer the imagined adventuring (imagining that bicycles are dromedaries, but then also having to imagine riding my bicycle somewhere).

RetiredAt63

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Re: What is up with children's books
« Reply #68 on: November 15, 2015, 10:08:34 AM »
Yes!  I loved all those old books because the children were so autonomous - they did things, they didn't sit around or be constantly supervised.  Can you imagine anyone these days letting their children do what the children did in Swallows and Amazons, at the ages they were?

I admit books like S&A (She was Titty not Tity, but still, oops) and Five Children and It were a bad influence on me.  I let DD run wild in our woods when she was little.  She and a friend apparently had a fort in there somewhere (I very carefully did not look for it).  She climbed trees on her own, and shocked her father when she showed us how well she could climb a tree.  Of course I had done all the same things when I was a kid summering in the Laurentians (and tamed some feral kittens as well, that took a whole summer), so I thought this is what kids do in the summer when they have wild places to roam.

So back on topic, kid's books are so tame these days.  And the joy of reading to them is that you can read books that are much more interesting, but too advanced for them to read on their own. If you are in luck your library or second-hand bookstore will have the old fun ones.

DD is all grown up now, but you are reminding me of all our bedtime reading. 

Arthur Ransome - fun, good vocabulary, assume children have brains and like doing things.  I loved his Swallows and Amazons - girls and boys doing fun things without helicopter parents, in 1929, imagine!  And sailing!


I was SO hoping someone would mention Swallows and Amazons here. They are absolutely fantastic. I think the Boxcar Children borrowed heavily on Ransome's plots, but the original is so much better. I re-read these books recently and they hold up really well. (Well, other than one character being named Tity.)

They are chapter books, so a little complex for the super young ones, but SO much fun. My parents read them to me, and my Mom's parents read them to her.

Yes yes yes to Swallows and Amazons! I too re-read them recently and was delighted that they are as adventurous as I remember them. My husband didn't read them as a child but he's hooked now, and one thing he pointed out is that there is never any mention of toys. Roger must be pretty young (seven?) but none of them have "pretend" anything or ever talk about it. I love how seriously they take everything as well, with John wanting to be as good a sailor as Daddy and them all wanting Mother to be proud of how they have done. Even as a child I thought that it was the childhood I desperately wanted but could never have, which made me sad, but at least I could double-layer the imagined adventuring (imagining that bicycles are dromedaries, but then also having to imagine riding my bicycle somewhere).

lbmustache

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Re: What is up with children's books
« Reply #69 on: November 15, 2015, 10:38:59 AM »
I noticed this too. :( I now shop books almost exclusively on Amazon. Cheaper, too!

shusherstache

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Re: What is up with children's books
« Reply #70 on: November 15, 2015, 10:50:08 AM »
I spend a lot of my free time reading to lots of children (5-10) who are very influenced by popular culture. (If I ever read another Thomas book, I might cry. Thank goodness for the library in that case.)

 I find I have a lot of luck with older collections, such as:
A Random House Book of Fairy Tales
A Random House Book of Bedtime Stories
A Necklace of Raindrops
D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths (not a collection, but very well-done)
Roald Dahl anything

MayDay

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Re: What is up with children's books
« Reply #71 on: November 15, 2015, 11:51:24 AM »
If anyone is still looking for gifts, I found the Dr. Seuss board book at Costco for a very good price.  They are abridged, but this is actually good, because reading a whole Dr. Seuss book makes me want to stab my eyes out.  They were hugely popular with my kids around ages 2-5, so the fact that they are board books (good to gnaw on!) and a bit shorter was perfect. 

The books our school sends home to read at home in K and 1 tend to be cheap scholastic ones of mediocre quality.  Not my favorite, but the are cheap/free to the teachers, and usually pretty short, so we read it once, send it back to school, and move on to better books.  I'd rather them send home crummy books then send home nothing, since some families wouldn't read without being told to and handed a book.  If there is ever a really awful one we skip it.

Now in 2nd grade he has 2 stories a week he reads as part of language arts that tie into a similar theme (postal service or animals hibernating or whatever), usually one fiction, one non.  Then they can free read whatever books they want from the school library. 

I never buy the kids junk books, but DD came home with one from the book fair (spent her own money)- a Frozen book.  Yes it is total shit, but her money, her choice.  None of our family buys the junk books as gifts, so the occasional one purchased with their money isn't the end of the world. 

gaja

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Re: What is up with children's books
« Reply #72 on: November 15, 2015, 12:41:58 PM »
With books, quantity is much more important than quality. Even the worst books improve vocabulary and increases the reading speed. So my kids have gotten what ever they want to read or listen to. On the other side, if they want their mother to read to them, they better choose good ones, otherwise there will be long breaks in the reading to discuss gender roles, politics and consumerism. "Here it says that Peter went out to play, while Mary stayed inside to help their mother. Does that seem fair? What do you suggest that Mary should do?"

A recommendation for 7-10 years olds:
Maria Parr is a Norwegian author who has been translated to several languages. Her books are not old classics, but I've never enjoyed reading to my kids so much before. I laughed, cried, and truely enjoyed it. A couple of times, the kids fell asleep before the end of the chapter, but I had to keep reading to get to know what would happen.

All of Maria Parr's characters are independent kids that live in rural areas. They play in rivers, get hurt, go skiing down steep mountain sides, mourn the deaths of people they know and love, etc.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=maria+parr&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Amaria+parr

Kitsune

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Re: What is up with children's books
« Reply #73 on: November 15, 2015, 01:25:54 PM »
On the other side, if they want their mother to read to them, they better choose good ones, otherwise there will be long breaks in the reading to discuss gender roles, politics and consumerism. "Here it says that Peter went out to play, while Mary stayed inside to help their mother. Does that seem fair? What do you suggest that Mary should do?"

... It's like you've been spying on me reading books to my daughter or my niece.  Or going back in time to my mother reading me books. It's a time-honoured tradition. :)

Ok, I've narrowed down what we're buying in terms of books this month (a few for the house, and a few for under the Christmas tree - and I am firmly of the opinion that children's books are a non-negotiable expense, in addition to the library, and I hve an 18-month-old whose preferred activity is to read books, so...) I thought some people here might be into some of our choices, so here you have it. Unless noted, ALL of these are under 8$ CAD new, and US people can probably beat that price easily.

Bias statement (and a request for recommendations...) : I avoid gendered or consumer-encouraging books as much as possible, lean towards good plot and pretty illustrations, and refuse to read super-cheesy feel-good books because they make me cringe. I have a huge soft spot for where-things-come-from type books, as well as books that encourage exploring or making things. I am specifically looking for books that represent cultures that are NOT white-middle-American, with a soft spot for French Canadian folk tales (my culture).

PRE-CHRISTMAS BOOKS (of the leave-next-to-the-couch-and-read-all-December variety).
- Just Right for Christmas by Birdie Black. It's a cute book with good illustrations, it's not horrifically cheesy, and, while it IS about Christmas presents, it's mostly about the joy of MAKING Christmas presents that are things people NEED (jackets, gloves, etc), out of found items. Seems like a good life lesson overall.
- The Trees of the Dancing Goats by Patricia Polacco. A story about both Hanukkah and Christmas, and about making things and making do and being good to people in general. Generally aimed at older kids, but my daughter has the patience for it.

UNDER-THE-TREE BOOKS:
- Something from Nothing by Phoebe Gilman. Great illustrations, and about taking things that are worn out and making something new with them.
- The Ox-Cart Man by Donald Hall. A great "where things come from" book that follows seasons; we've renewed it 4 times at the library so far and read it at least twice a day.
- When Stella Was Very Very Small by Marie-Louise Gay: ALL the Stella books are lovely, but this one particularly is about exploring the world and how the world is different when you're very very small ("world" = backyard, living room, bathtub, etc - super non-commercial, very adorable, very relatable, with lovely illustrations)
- The Keeping Quilt, by Patricia Polacco: Gorgeous illustrations, about family and memory and culture, told via a quilt.
- Fortunately, The Milk by Neil Gaiman. Hilarious tale of a father getting distracted while shopping for milk and making up ludicrous stories to cover for it. Anything Neil Gaiman has written is pretty great, IMO. Special mention for Chu's Day, which has been a favourite over the past year.

I am throwing out a mention for Everywhere Babies, which is a perpetual favorite (babies! But also babies of multiple colours, with parents in multiple colours/ages/configurations, and none of it is preachy, it's just presented as the reality... which, y'know, it IS.


Now, recommendations: my daughter has the patience for anything aimed at the under-6 age group (less than 5 sentences per page, say). I'm SPECIFICALLY looking for Hanukkah (or other Jewish holiday) books, as well as Muslim-holiday books, since she's soaked in Anglo-Christian culture but we've got a good number of Jewish and Muslim friends and I'd like my kid to grow up seeing their holidays as normal, too (and these friends don't yet have kids and can't recommend kid-appropriate books). Everything I've found is extensive enough to be almost a chapter-book, which ain't gonna cut it with an 18-month-old, no matter how many books she likes. Suggestions, pls?
« Last Edit: November 15, 2015, 01:30:13 PM by Kitsune »

TomTX

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Re: What is up with children's books
« Reply #74 on: November 15, 2015, 01:59:13 PM »
Here's a lovely book in which the main character is a house and it traces its "life" for 100 years or so.



I've been reading from that book to my toddler.  Not the 60th anniversary edition, but apparently the 1st edition - which my parents read to me.

Plus an original




...and some other classics.

Mr Dumpster Stache

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Re: What is up with children's books
« Reply #75 on: November 15, 2015, 03:02:18 PM »
Kids books are my favorite thing ever! I work off and on in the children's section at our local library. It's true there are tons of trash, but there are still some great authors being published all the time! Ask either the nerdiest or the crankiest looking children's librarian you can find what they recommend, and you should get some good direction.

My Iwillreadandloveanythingtheywrote authors: Mo Willems, Dr. Suess, Bill Peet, Tomie DePaola, Arnold Lobel, Norton Juster, Jules Feiffer as a start. Some of these authors also have chapter books for older readers.

The best, funniest, most interesting, thrilling, engrossing, exciting, endearing and loveable kids' book I ever had the privilege of writing reading, can be downloaded here for the super-mustachian price of $0.99. :D

AnEDO

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Re: What is up with children's books
« Reply #76 on: November 16, 2015, 10:39:51 AM »
Once a year one of our big libraries has a book sale.  We get bags of children's books ranging from .25 to .50 a piece and coming from the library they are the kind of books we want our kids to read.  Our oldest is 3 but we actually buy books for all age ranges.  A good book doesn't become obsolete very quickly.

GuitarStv

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Re: What is up with children's books
« Reply #77 on: November 16, 2015, 11:26:18 AM »
Oooh, I just remembered two of my favorites from when I was a kid:

Asterix and Tintin comics!  I'll definitely be reading them to my son when he's a few years older . . .

Kitsune

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Re: What is up with children's books
« Reply #78 on: November 16, 2015, 12:35:47 PM »
Oooh, I just remembered two of my favorites from when I was a kid:

Asterix and Tintin comics!  I'll definitely be reading them to my son when he's a few years older . . .

I have fond memories of Asterix (warning: avoid the movies) but will warn that Tintin has not withstood the test of time and comes off as really racist. Re-read before giving it to your kid, basically.

GuitarStv

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Re: What is up with children's books
« Reply #79 on: November 16, 2015, 12:46:04 PM »
Oooh, I just remembered two of my favorites from when I was a kid:

Asterix and Tintin comics!  I'll definitely be reading them to my son when he's a few years older . . .

I have fond memories of Asterix (warning: avoid the movies) but will warn that Tintin has not withstood the test of time and comes off as really racist. Re-read before giving it to your kid, basically.

Damn.  I don't remember that at all.

Kitsune

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Re: What is up with children's books
« Reply #80 on: November 16, 2015, 06:50:01 PM »
Oooh, I just remembered two of my favorites from when I was a kid:

Asterix and Tintin comics!  I'll definitely be reading them to my son when he's a few years older . . .

I have fond memories of Asterix (warning: avoid the movies) but will warn that Tintin has not withstood the test of time and comes off as really racist. Re-read before giving it to your kid, basically.

Damn.  I don't remember that at all.

"Tintin au Congo" with the black "savages"... Yeeeeah...

cavewoman

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Re: What is up with children's books
« Reply #81 on: November 16, 2015, 09:57:05 PM »
More favorites from childhood:

Ms piggly wiggly - short stories with good lessons. Ex: kid won't eat. Parents ask ms pw for help. She has them shrink kids plates until they are doll size. Kid decides he is hungry and asks for the big plate. I'm not describing it as good as it actually is, they are clever stories.

Maniac McGee - this one I read when I was older but might be a good one to read to a kid who can handle longer chapter books. Kid unites town divided by race. By running on the railroad track. Somehow. Anyway good memories of that one.

GuitarStv

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Re: What is up with children's books
« Reply #82 on: November 17, 2015, 07:25:09 AM »
Oooh, I just remembered two of my favorites from when I was a kid:

Asterix and Tintin comics!  I'll definitely be reading them to my son when he's a few years older . . .

I have fond memories of Asterix (warning: avoid the movies) but will warn that Tintin has not withstood the test of time and comes off as really racist. Re-read before giving it to your kid, basically.

Damn.  I don't remember that at all.

"Tintin au Congo" with the black "savages"... Yeeeeah...

Hmmm.  Our library didn't have that one.

I remember there was one with some magic crystals, one with a rocket ship on the cover, one about Tibet, and one about Egypt.  None of which seemed to be overtly racist, but I'll apparently have to skim them over before reading them to my kid.

I'm actually wondering now if it would make more sense to read and discuss racism, rather than simply avoid the issue entirely.  You can find instances of racist speech in a ton of older books children's . . . Treasure Island (I'm sure I remember some offhand comments about black people that wouldn't stand up to a re-reading), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (the oompa loopas were black pygamies),  Chronicles of Narnia (the Calormenes were black or Arab non-christians and thus were evil, except when they converted), Little House on the Prarie (didn't treat Indians very well from my recollection), Peter Pan (also pretty bad portrayal of Indians).

Maybe it would be best to explain a bit about the time that these books were written, and how things have changed.

justajane

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Re: What is up with children's books
« Reply #83 on: November 17, 2015, 07:32:59 AM »
You can find instances of racist speech in a ton of older books children's  [...] Little House on the Prarie (didn't treat Indians very well from my recollection)

Maybe it would be best to explain a bit about the time that these books were written, and how things have changed.

Ma hated the Indians and said so regularly, whereas Pa has a more nuanced view of them. There were several places, when re-reading the books to my children, that I felt uncomfortable and like I wanted to censor it. But I still read it, and like you I think it would be a shame to either edit or dispense with the classics altogether because of these aspects.

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Re: What is up with children's books
« Reply #84 on: November 17, 2015, 07:40:26 AM »
I think that by and large you're right and if there is mild racism or racial stereotyping it's best to put it out there and discuss it. However, a few of the earlier Tintin books are really shocking! A friend of mine found one in a charity shop where Tintin was trying to teach reading, 'riting and 'rithmetic to black people in (I think) Africa and they were basically drawn as gorillas and portrayed as being unable to learn anything civilised. The ones being printed now are fine (many have been edited for modern audiences) but beware the ancient second-hand copy...

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Re: What is up with children's books
« Reply #85 on: November 17, 2015, 04:37:10 PM »
You can find instances of racist speech in a ton of older books children's  [...] Little House on the Prarie (didn't treat Indians very well from my recollection)

Maybe it would be best to explain a bit about the time that these books were written, and how things have changed.

Ma hated the Indians and said so regularly, whereas Pa has a more nuanced view of them. There were several places, when re-reading the books to my children, that I felt uncomfortable and like I wanted to censor it. But I still read it, and like you I think it would be a shame to either edit or dispense with the classics altogether because of these aspects.

I felt the same way. I bloviated a bit about how now we call them Native Americans. My 3-year-old said he thought Indians were "bad"--I said no, they were just people, some good and some bad and most in between!

I also brought home a picture book about modern-day Native Americans--Jingle Dancer was the one I got just because I was already familiar with it. It's a good one because it shows Native Americans participating in cultural activities, sure (making fry bread, jingle dancing, going to powwows) as well as doing regular modern things like being a lawyer, living in neighborhoods, etc. You don't want to let the Thanksgiving story be your kids' only exposure to Native Americans!

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Re: What is up with children's books
« Reply #86 on: November 17, 2015, 05:04:11 PM »
Don't assume children will get what you think from books. The lesson I got when I read Little House on the Prairie (by myself in primary school, without an adult to "explain" it to me) was that even though Ma hated the Indians she was still polite when they came to the Ingalls house and fed them and gave them tobacco, so you should always be polite to people even if you don't like them. I'd have missed out on that if some adult had decided what I could read!

Kitsune

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Re: What is up with children's books
« Reply #87 on: November 17, 2015, 05:15:56 PM »
Don't assume children will get what you think from books. The lesson I got when I read Little House on the Prairie (by myself in primary school, without an adult to "explain" it to me) was that even though Ma hated the Indians she was still polite when they came to the Ingalls house and fed them and gave them tobacco, so you should always be polite to people even if you don't like them. I'd have missed out on that if some adult had decided what I could read!

Oh, absolutely. And it's worth having conversations ABOUT the racism, 'cause it's not disappearing by itself, so...

But there's a difference between "Ma dislikes a group of people she's scared of, vocally" (open discussion there) and "look, black people are like apes and can't learn!" I just kind of feel there's a) a difference, and b) a certain point where the depiction is so insulting that it goes beyond what one can get out of the rest of it.

RetiredAt63

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Re: What is up with children's books
« Reply #88 on: November 17, 2015, 05:34:27 PM »
Well, the thing with Narnia is that different peoples from our world settled there.  But in The Last Battle Aslan makes it clear that those who lead good lives are serving him, and those who do evil in his name are not serving him.  And Tash is pretty horrifying. And in that story the worst villains are talking animals, who as native Narnians are usually the good guys (although the Black Dwarves are usually pretty sucky too).  Also see http://narnia.wikia.com/wiki/Emeth

Of course the Narnia series, just like the others mentioned, do reflect their times. 

And Tintin - oh my, it is full of stereotypes.  Look at the bumbling British/French detectives (Thomson and Thompson/ Dupond et Dupont), they are a total send-up. Hergé was Belgian.

And yes, these book do give us a chance to discuss things with our kids.  And let them figure out some things on their own.

Sometimes I think the books I learned the most from are books that my parents never knew I read, and would have been horrified if they had known (they were totally age-inappropriate).  Plus back when I found SF, it was barely respectable for boys to read, and considered totally inappropriate for girls. Oops.

I'm actually wondering now if it would make more sense to read and discuss racism, rather than simply avoid the issue entirely.  You can find instances of racist speech in a ton of older books children's . . . Treasure Island (I'm sure I remember some offhand comments about black people that wouldn't stand up to a re-reading), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (the oompa loopas were black pygamies),  Chronicles of Narnia (the Calormenes were black or Arab non-christians and thus were evil, except when they converted), Little House on the Prarie (didn't treat Indians very well from my recollection), Peter Pan (also pretty bad portrayal of Indians).

Maybe it would be best to explain a bit about the time that these books were written, and how things have changed.

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Re: What is up with children's books
« Reply #89 on: November 17, 2015, 06:04:42 PM »
Don't assume children will get what you think from books. The lesson I got when I read Little House on the Prairie (by myself in primary school, without an adult to "explain" it to me) was that even though Ma hated the Indians she was still polite when they came to the Ingalls house and fed them and gave them tobacco, so you should always be polite to people even if you don't like them. I'd have missed out on that if some adult had decided what I could read!

Oh, absolutely. And it's worth having conversations ABOUT the racism, 'cause it's not disappearing by itself, so...

But there's a difference between "Ma dislikes a group of people she's scared of, vocally" (open discussion there) and "look, black people are like apes and can't learn!" I just kind of feel there's a) a difference, and b) a certain point where the depiction is so insulting that it goes beyond what one can get out of the rest of it.

There's a difference between bedtime reading and something that you would use for a history lesson about racism. I feel like Little House on the Prairie juuuust squeaks into the former category while Tintin--though I have not seen it--sounds more like the latter.

justajane

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Re: What is up with children's books
« Reply #90 on: November 17, 2015, 06:19:59 PM »
Growing up, I had the Disney version of Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby. In adulthood, I always assumed it was entirely racist, but I was doing some reading just now about how it was originally based on African folk tales and it was only later that the term "tar baby" became a racial epithet. The story itself actually speaks more to the intelligence of Brer Rabbit and his ability to outsmart Brer Fox.

Tonight I read some of the Brothers Grimm stories to my kids. Those tales are fucking weird. I have to say either I'm stupid or the point of many of those tales is pretty opaque. I think the volume we have was a gift. It wouldn't be my first choice for bedtime reading, but I give them a choice...

GuitarStv

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Re: What is up with children's books
« Reply #91 on: November 18, 2015, 06:42:32 AM »
There's a difference between bedtime reading and something that you would use for a history lesson about racism. I feel like Little House on the Prairie juuuust squeaks into the former category while Tintin--though I have not seen it--sounds more like the latter.

Eh . . . maybe check out a few of the books from your library before making a judgement.  The criticisms of Tintin seem to focus on the very earliest works that Herge did (Tintin in the Congo, Tintin in the Land of the Soviets, etc.).  I suspect that the later stuff would be more acceptable.

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Re: What is up with children's books
« Reply #92 on: November 18, 2015, 02:15:48 PM »
Growing up, I had the Disney version of Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby. In adulthood, I always assumed it was entirely racist, but I was doing some reading just now about how it was originally based on African folk tales and it was only later that the term "tar baby" became a racial epithet. The story itself actually speaks more to the intelligence of Brer Rabbit and his ability to outsmart Brer Fox.

Tonight I read some of the Brothers Grimm stories to my kids. Those tales are fucking weird. I have to say either I'm stupid or the point of many of those tales is pretty opaque. I think the volume we have was a gift. It wouldn't be my first choice for bedtime reading, but I give them a choice...

I taught Anne Sexton's re-visioning of Grimm's fairytales recently, and my (college) students were very confused about how dark they were. I had to explain that Disney was the first to adapt the stories for a child-friendly audience, and that the dark tone of Sexton's work is actually closer to the originals. Because you're right--Grimms Fairy Tales are very, very weird.

They were also very amused that in the first version of Rapunzel, the witch finds out about the prince because Rapunzel's clothes are tight (i.e. she is knocked up). Definitely not Disney-friendly. 

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Re: What is up with children's books
« Reply #93 on: November 18, 2015, 04:09:36 PM »
Growing up, I had the Disney version of Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby. In adulthood, I always assumed it was entirely racist, but I was doing some reading just now about how it was originally based on African folk tales and it was only later that the term "tar baby" became a racial epithet. The story itself actually speaks more to the intelligence of Brer Rabbit and his ability to outsmart Brer Fox.

Tonight I read some of the Brothers Grimm stories to my kids. Those tales are fucking weird. I have to say either I'm stupid or the point of many of those tales is pretty opaque. I think the volume we have was a gift. It wouldn't be my first choice for bedtime reading, but I give them a choice...

I taught Anne Sexton's re-visioning of Grimm's fairytales recently, and my (college) students were very confused about how dark they were. I had to explain that Disney was the first to adapt the stories for a child-friendly audience, and that the dark tone of Sexton's work is actually closer to the originals. Because you're right--Grimms Fairy Tales are very, very weird.

They were also very amused that in the first version of Rapunzel, the witch finds out about the prince because Rapunzel's clothes are tight (i.e. she is knocked up). Definitely not Disney-friendly.

There's all sorts of messed up stuff in Grimm and also in earlier versions of folk tales, particularly the poetic Edda. Mutilations, rape, cannibalism, murder-- and best of all the parents thought I was reading harmless fiction. In reality, I was getting insight into what human nature is really like, and how people really behave, or want to behave, or are afraid others might behave.

Let's consider: these stories were written down at a time when paper was very scarce, and nobody wrote anything unless they thought it was very, very important. Although the tales were presented as fiction most of the time (nobody would mistake anything involving a giant or a fairy as history), they illustrated a larger and more profound human truth. People in those stories seldom got rescued except by other human beings (and generally not even then). Rescue by luck or supernatural power usually happened only to people who'd already earned it, good guys often died messily, powerful people are frequently unpredictable and arbitrary, endings are very seldom happy, and bad karma generally comes back around to bite you. In an era when the religious authorities controlled nearly all the writing and recording of material, the fact that such secular and atheistic stories survived at all was amazing.

Overall, the trend toward duckies-and-bunnies style stories for kids is relatively new.

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Re: What is up with children's books
« Reply #94 on: November 23, 2015, 12:08:40 PM »
Now, recommendations: my daughter has the patience for anything aimed at the under-6 age group (less than 5 sentences per page, say). I'm SPECIFICALLY looking for Hanukkah (or other Jewish holiday) books, as well as Muslim-holiday books, since she's soaked in Anglo-Christian culture but we've got a good number of Jewish and Muslim friends and I'd like my kid to grow up seeing their holidays as normal, too (and these friends don't yet have kids and can't recommend kid-appropriate books). Everything I've found is extensive enough to be almost a chapter-book, which ain't gonna cut it with an 18-month-old, no matter how many books she likes. Suggestions, pls?

I'm not quite sure if this would be what you are looking for. I remember reading parts of 1001 Arabian Nights. They have children's picture book versions.

Aladdin is the most well known story thanks to Disney.

I would have to look at them again since as it has been mentioned we overlook many things as kids.

But at least all the heroes are not lily white and it would open the dialogue of different cultures.

MgoSam

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Re: What is up with children's books
« Reply #95 on: November 23, 2015, 01:25:44 PM »
Now, recommendations: my daughter has the patience for anything aimed at the under-6 age group (less than 5 sentences per page, say). I'm SPECIFICALLY looking for Hanukkah (or other Jewish holiday) books, as well as Muslim-holiday books, since she's soaked in Anglo-Christian culture but we've got a good number of Jewish and Muslim friends and I'd like my kid to grow up seeing their holidays as normal, too (and these friends don't yet have kids and can't recommend kid-appropriate books). Everything I've found is extensive enough to be almost a chapter-book, which ain't gonna cut it with an 18-month-old, no matter how many books she likes. Suggestions, pls?

I'm not quite sure if this would be what you are looking for. I remember reading parts of 1001 Arabian Nights. They have children's picture book versions.

Aladdin is the most well known story thanks to Disney.

I would have to look at them again since as it has been mentioned we overlook many things as kids.

But at least all the heroes are not lily white and it would open the dialogue of different cultures.

If you are looking for stories outside of a Judea-Christian perspective, the Mahabharta (Hindu story) might be worth considering. The Ramayana is also good.

http://www.amazon.com/Illustrated-Mahabharata-Children-Indian-Epic/dp/8184682433

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/8171201024/ref=pd_lpo_sbs_dp_ss_2?pf_rd_p=1944687642&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=8184682433&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=1DE79HTJ73CC3DQPHC1T

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Re: What is up with children's books
« Reply #96 on: November 23, 2015, 01:56:55 PM »
I has a library book out called Relax, It's Just God which had suggestions for how to educate kids about all the different religions (whether you are religious or not, but the book is definitely geared toward open-minded parents).

dramaman

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Re: What is up with children's books
« Reply #97 on: November 23, 2015, 02:15:50 PM »
No matter the time period, 90% of all media produced, books included, is crap. When we look back to all the great books that we read in our early years, we are remembering the 10% that were worth remembering, not the 90% that wasn't.

justajane

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Re: What is up with children's books
« Reply #98 on: November 23, 2015, 03:05:11 PM »
No matter the time period, 90% of all media produced, books included, is crap. When we look back to all the great books that we read in our early years, we are remembering the 10% that were worth remembering, not the 90% that wasn't.

This is definitely true. I have read a lot of fine literature over the years. I especially loved the English writers like Austen, Hardy, Trollope etc. I recently started reading a book by the Victorian author Elizabeth Gaskell. While it is good, it's not in the same ballpark as the stuff I was assigned in class and devoured in my twenties. Austen she was not. It's probably second tier literature from the time. It's still available on Amazon, but to get to the third or fourth or fifth tier stuff from that era, I would likely have to go to a British library. Those books did not endure. In my historical research, I encountered absolute crap - the stuff that historians use to illustrate something about the time period about which they are writing but not something someone is going to pick up in translation and enjoy during their leisure.

Making Cookies

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Re: What is up with children's books
« Reply #99 on: November 24, 2015, 08:12:47 AM »
My DD wore her cousins' hand-me-downs when she was little - her cousins were boys and my sister couldn't believe I would want boy colours for a girl (navy and black mostly).  ?!?!?

At least the pink handled tools (hammers, pliers, etc.) at the hardware stores are that colour so the guys won't walk off with our tools.   ;-)

Re: gender specific toys and books

I think I've figured it out... it's a purely financial corporate decision to make sure there are fewer hand-me-downs.

If kids and parents can be programmed to reject toys or books for the "wrong" gender, people can be induced to buy a bunch of new disposable crap for each child, instead of passing on favorite toys that still work.

Consider: a family with both a boy and a girl could potentially be manipulated into buying two Easy-Bake ovens.

Oh, absolutely.

Because god knows what would happen should a boy use a *gasp* PINK toy hammer, right?

We had a problem with hand tools disappearing from my shop at work so I spray painted a bunch pink and purple. That fixed it...