And I'm not talking about Go The Fuck To Sleep by Adam Mansbach (hysterical). I'm talking about some of the quote unquote classics (that's right I spelled it out so you can actually read my sarcasm) Trust me it's necessary for this post :)
It's a busy baby season for me, some friends having their firsts, so I happened to have two showers within a month of each other. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the give a book instead of a card idea! Cards are so expensive and just get thrown away or take up a ridiculous amount of valuable space. We actually keep little colored moleskin books for each person in our family and instead of cards we write notes in them on special occasions (or just because). I think it is so much nicer to have something you will actually keep and is all bound in a little notebook to look at down the road, rather than a drawer full of cards--which I also have down in my basement, except it's like three of those plastic drawer things and they're warped and i can't even get the drawers open anymore, but I digress. Cards are a waste of money, so I dig the book thing. This, however, is what brought this post about. Now my husband and I have joked about this for a long time and I know some friends have touched on it with me briefly in conversation, but after attending these baby showers and seeing the "classic" baby books and hearing the oohs and aahs and nods and whispers: "I love that book" as I sit there thinking, "That tree is an enabler and the boy is an ungrateful, selfish douchebag." You know what I'm talking about. YOU. KNOW.
I'm talking about the kids books that not only are quietly teaching our already difficult three-year-olds to be even bigger assholes but are kinda downright fucked up. I thought about using F'ed up again but we're talking about a creeper of a mom that involves a ladder, window and rocking a grown man while he sleeps, Fucked up is perfectly appropriate! So here we go:
Five Little Monkeys Jumping On The Bed by Eileen Christelow
There are many versions of this book; this happens to be the one we have. I have been guilty of singing this song to The Stin when he was little and to The Ster recently. I have avoided the glaring inability for these damn monkey's to learn a lesson from their siblings and focus on "Oh, but it's teaching my kid how to count backwards." No it's not. The Ster doesn't look at numbers and sing Five little monkey's, or use her little fingers to show how she understand the relation or even tries to apply it from a different amount of monkeys...no this book (that we all sing) rears it's head when she is, wait for it, jumping on the bed or couch or any other piece of furniture she shouldn't be jumping on. And it's not like you can reference the book and point out that they don't want to bump their heads, because the book goes through five monkey's who apparently see their siblings bump their head, and cry and get scolded by mama and the doctor and then get all bandaged up... it doesn't stop them! No lesson just ideas, that's what this book provides. Glorious monkey's jumping on the bed and getting hurt and continuing to do it anyway, all while singing. Awesome.
Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney
Ok, I admit I like this one. Probably because I can appreciate a parent that doesn't let their child win....Buuuuuut, Big Nutbrown Hare is kinda a one-upping asshole. I mean of course your arms are longer and you can stretch higher do you have to jump higher and basically destroy this kids will, so much so that he is exhausted from it and even when that sweet Little Nutbrown Hare comes up with one more very clever way to demonstrate how much he loves you before he passes out in defeat...to the moon...you can't even let him have that, you just gotta throw in "and back"! This book actually taught me to restrain from collecting all those matches in My Little Pony Memory-she's only 4, I gotta give a little bit...for a little bit anyway. So I guess "Thank you Big Nutbrown Hare for your dickheadish ways that allowed me to learn how to let my kids bask in a victory against me...for a little bit anyway."
If You Give A Cat A Cupcake by Laura Numeroff
This book is just ADD in a feline form. I can't even read the other ones cause I assume they are exactly the same just with different animals jumping from random, obnoxious, absurd act to another while a child follows them around helplessly trying to keep up. It actually sounds a lot like my afternoons when The Ster was two and had the attention span of my neurotic chihuahua. I just watch The Ster nodding when I read this book and all I can think is "oh God, we are going to be all over the place before I can turn this page.....PIPER come back over here and finish this book-no you cannot have a cupcake!" I rest my case.
The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
This one is on the fence. It makes me cry, but not in a sweet good way, more like I'm-horribly-sad crying. This bunny is bullied and then abandoned, and it isn't until a fairy comes does it's life turn around...that's reassuring. And what about the asshole bunnies, who wants to read a story to their child about a bunch of bullying bunnies? I mean there is magic and pixie dust and fairies all over the place these days--especially with girls--I get it, but having the only thing save this poor little velveteen rabbit from it's horribly depressing situation, be a nursery magic fairy (whatever the hell that is) this book is just sad. The only thing I get from it is to vaccinate my children. I don't even know what the poor kid has but I sure as hell hope that all the shots my kids get are protecting them from the stuffed-animal-throwing-away illness! The thought of throwing away The Stin's Beary or The Ster's beloved Snowman is so upsetting that this book is almost unreadable for me.
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
This is a doozey. You can love someone too much and this tree is so sadly and pathetically guilty of that it is almost infuriating. You've got a boy, who at first seems sweet enough but boy oh boy does the douchbaggery come out at he grows up. Not only does he conveniently visit the tree when he needs something, he is such a passive aggressive asshole about it. I don't want to swing in your branches I'm too old, I want a house. Can you give me a house? ASSHOLE. But that damn tree always figures out a way to provide something that will give that boy what he wants. This tree is literally "the shirt off my back" type of personality and it's pretty painful to read. Worst part is the boy never says thank you, he just takes and takes and takes. Not. A. Fan.
Goodnight Moon by Pat Hancock and Margaret Wise Brown
I have friends that looooove this book. It's fine, it is probably the least problematic, but this book also has it's issues. It's not a goodnight book, it's a teach my kid how to stall book. First we have to say goodnight to everything in the room including inanimate objects. It's like Brick from Anchorman, "Good night lamp." The Ster is always looking for ways to elongate that light being on and us being in her room and this book provides her with a wealth of ammunition and I'm not just talking about all the "goodnight's" going on. The mouse. You know. Your settling down for bedtime, goodnight this, goodnight that, goodnight goodnight goodnight, turn the damn page..."Wait Mommy go back....I have to find the mouse, hmmmmm where is he?" She knows where he is. They all do after the first two times you read the book, but it sure takes an awfully long time to find him everytime, everypage...YOU KNOW WHERE IT IS! And it isn't until after the page is turned and you think you're in the clear that they call out...."Wait Mommy," and you know, you know whats coming. Enter Go The Fuck To Sleep by Adam Mansbach.
Love You Forever by Robert Munsch
Ok, this is THE book that makes my skin crawl and everyone seems to swoon over it. Have you ever read this book? First of all the little chorus part "I love you forever, I like you for always..." Stop. Right. There. I do Not always like my kids. I admit it. Love them forever yes, like them always...you can come to my house at around 5 pm on a day The Ster gets up at 5:45 am, plays all morning, doesn't nap, has preschool, almost falls asleep on the way home, but doesn't and then turns into a mandrake/gremlin at the dinner table...I don't know if "liking always" would feel fitting. Ok, but aside from that, have you read the book? Like all the way through really read it? Here let me cut to the end:
An eightyish year old woman drives a ladder and climbs through her sons second story window to rock him while he sleeps.
No wonder he's sleeping in a twin bed alone!
I mean this mom is creeper all throughout this book, like crawling on the floor while her teenage son sleeps, grade A creeper.
It's not until she is obviously very ill and in a home that he can get married (can you imagine the momma's boy drama that wife will need to deal with Yikes!) and have a child of his own, who will very obviously have to experience this viscous cycle come full circle, but on a Daddy/daughter level which is probably more of a series rather than one book! Yikes! Therapy anyone? No. Thanks.
I'm sure there are others, I bet you have some that you read to your kids at bedtime and immediately regretted it, or after the first page you're like, "Maybe we should pick out a different book," but you can't. Once you start reading, you're locked in! You know it! They won't let you out, so I'm here to help you avoid a couple of those uncomfortable situations.
I'm not a book hater either, I love books. I think it's hard to find good children's books, it's tricky. But here are some of my favorites that don't make me throw up a little bit in my mouth when someone swoons over them:
Anything Nancy Tillman--love her themes, love her rhyming rhythm, love love love. These are my go to's for baby showers!
The Simply Small Series by Paola Opal-There are sweet little lessons in these board books. Saffy can be a bit bratty but her ingenuity prevails and she does learn lessons. Cute illustration style.
The Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle-Cute Cute Cute. I love good rhyming books and this one is sweet as can be.
Pete the Cat by Mr. Eric-These are just fun to read/sing to your kids.
You Are My I Love You by Maryann Cusimano Love-The title says it all.
So snuggle up and share a good book with your child. I just happen to prefer some over others, because if I'm going to read something roughly 20 times in a month, I would like to think that something positive is being taught or a moral is being shared or a lesson is being learned so when I kiss The Ster on her sweet little head I know, to quote Pete the Cat, "It's All Good"!