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Skippyjon Jones books - stereotypes

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
My dd got some Skippyjon Jones books for Christmas from my inlaws. Have you seen these books? They seem like they're full of stereotypes and they make me uncomfortable. I have an urge to take them away, but I don't like taking away my dd's things. Am I being too sensitive? Would you take them away? We have Latino friends and I'd be embarassed if she read these books to them. Are there any Latina moms here who can give me some perspective?
post #2 of 17
You know, I had this same feeling.

OTOH,We live really close to the border and even the most socially conscious parents seem to buy them. So I wondered if I was being oversensitive.
We only have one and it was bday gift from a preschool mom who is also a teacher in a Hispanic neighborhood.

So I don't know. I have a tendency to be oversensitive.
post #3 of 17
We have these books, and my boys love them. The read aloud with the author is well done, too.
As for the stereotypes, I saw it as a child's very active imagination. I really thought complaints around this series would center around how skippy's always in trouble and sent to his room. Her newest skippy john book, Lost in Spice, tries to minimize both issues, with a gentler mama and a different approach to the spanish language phrases. I actually like it the least, because it seems the most forced of the books.
post #4 of 17
These are some of my favorite kids books. I live and work in an ethnically diverse population and I don't see any problems with these books. It isn't so much stereotypes as it is characterizations. Read these books to kids and really get into the dialect and rhythm. Kids love it. It's fun. Besides, most of the Latino kids I know love to hear me attempt to roll my Rs so that they can giggle playfully at me.

We shouldn't be so "sensitive" that we can no longer be real and enjoy things, especially our differences.
post #5 of 17
My kids love these books. We read them over and over. As an English teacher, I simply see them as using language playfully. I love his funny imagination, and the way the words rhyme in such clever ways.

I don't see how they are insulting. But maybe I am wrong. Can you point to something specific that would be offensive?
post #6 of 17
I got one as a gift at my baby shower. DH speaks spanish as his first language so i assume the gift giver thought it was a cute way to tie that in.. or else it was just the trendiest book out.
i have mixed feelings about the books. on one hand, they are fun and imaginative, but there is something that doesn't feel quite right to me.

Its the mock mexican accent and fake spanish (english word ending in -ito, etc)i think that makes me a little uneasy.
I'm still thinking about it. thanks for posting, op!
post #7 of 17
My kids go to a very diverse school and these books are a big hit with all the kids..my 7 year old loves them and they read them in class. I think its a non issue.
post #8 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by MadiMamacita View Post
Its the mock mexican accent and fake spanish (english word ending in -ito, etc)i think that makes me a little uneasy.
I'm still thinking about it. thanks for posting, op!

Yes, that's it with me, too.
post #9 of 17
Moved to Books, Music & Other Media
post #10 of 17
Both my DS 6 and DD 21 months love SkippyJon Jones. DD even has a small stuffed animal. I agree as a pp mentioned, it's more the rhythm of the book and the involvement by clapping along, etc. that the kiddo's love.
post #11 of 17
DD1 pulled one off the bookshelf at B&N and asked me to read it. I refuse to read another one. I was very uncomfortable.
post #12 of 17
We own 4 of the books and I asked my husband (Spanish is his first language) if he finds them insulting. Nope, he thinks they are pretty funny. He uses them with his after-school Spanish classes. He just thinks they have cute examples of mock Spanish (his term, I'm not the Spanish major), and it cracks him up. He also said it's pretty common for kids learning Spanish to go a little crazy with "ito", and will throw it on the end of just about any word in English and try to call it Spanish, which is what the cat does.
I'll admit that my husband is pretty hard to offend and that I'm a big Skippy fan. First book I ever bought my DD 6.5 years ago.
post #13 of 17
My dd loves these books, and I have to admit I think they are pretty cute. (I esp. love when Skippy looks in the mirror and sees a chihuahua - I crack up everytime!) But, I am with you, I always feel kind of felt uneasy...

You mentioned you have latino friends. Could you ask them? This isn't a black and white issue, some ppl will be offended and some people won't. The best you can do is listen to your gut and get input from people you trust.
post #14 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamazee View Post
We have Latino friends and I'd be embarassed if she read these books to them. Are there any Latina moms here who can give me some perspective?
I teach in East Oakland in an elementary school with 88% latino population and a bilingual strand. In my class alone, 17 out of 20 students are latino. The bilingual classes are 100% latino, which is why our percentage of so high.

Anyway... last year, our parents were responsible for organizing and planning our Dr. Seuss Literature Night. The book they choose for the main read aloud, in which our principal reads to each class, was a Skippyjon Jones book!

Additionally, my bilingual partner teacher's favorite read alouds are all of the Skippyjon Jones books. She is Mexican, married to a Cuban and very embedded in our community. She is often disgusted by my Skippyjon Jones read aloud because I absolutely suck at the accent and frequently mispronounce the Spanish words.

My students love those books and they LOVE to help me with the spanish words and pronunciations!!!
post #15 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by MadiMamacita View Post
Its the mock mexican accent and fake spanish (english word ending in -ito, etc)i think that makes me a little uneasy.
It doesn't help that we sound like Cheech and Chong when we really pour it on while we read!
post #16 of 17
I also want to add that while they read these books in class, they also have a regular, normal spanish class. In fact, my 9 year old has been taking Spanish for 3 years and is doing great. ( so they are also getting proper Spanish as well)
post #17 of 17

Yes, these books are racist as can be.  The "Mock Spanish" of the "banditos" (which isn't Spanish at all, but a ridiculous stereotypical English speaker's idea of what Mexicans sound like) is the equivalent of the "jive" of the crows in Dumbo.  It plays on the worst stereotypes of Mexico.  Defenders of the book will say what defenders of racism always say - that its not meant to be racist (so what?), that its just "fun" (like so many racist images from the old Tarzan movies), that those who are offended should just get a sense of humor.  Why is having dogs act like foreigners speaking buffoonish gibberish funny?  Why not actually have them speak Spanish instead of English with "ito" or "o" at the end, or other non-Spanish phrases that non-Spanish speakers say when they are pretending to be stupid, like "no problema?"

For an article on the phenomenon of "mock Spanish," look up anthropologist Jane Hill.

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