Awful, awful children's books - Mothering Forums
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Books, Music, and Media > Awful, awful children's books
JSerene's Avatar JSerene 06:26 AM 04-21-2008
My almost 3 year old enjoys the Berenstain Bears books, but I hid them this week because they are so terrible! I remember not liking them when I was in high school and read them to kids I babysat. I heard a story on NPR a few weeks ago about how good the early books are, so I checked a few out from the library. They are much worse then I remember. I know not every kids book needs to be taken seriously, but I can't get over how bad the themes of these are.

For example,

The big honey hunt: nevermind doing for yourself, just go to the store
The bears' picnic: nevermind picnicing, stay home
The Berenstain Bears visit the dentist: big brother teases/scares little sister

These are classic books and I was surprised at how bad they were. Has anyone else been surprised at how awful other classics are? I was unimpressed with Beatrix Potter, but that's all that comes to mind right now.

sofiabugmom's Avatar sofiabugmom 06:51 AM 04-21-2008
I remember reading one of the older Curious George books, thankfully before I read it to DD, and after Curious George had made a mistake, he "wished he was dead".

Not a message I want to give to my kid, thanks.

Another one that had a negative impact on DD was "When Sophie Gets Angry, Really Really Angry." It's supposed to be about how a little girl handles anger. Here's the problem: She runs. "She runs and runs until she can't run any more."

So you know what DD does when she's angry or makes a big mistake? She runs, no matter where we are. Public park, museum, beach, you name it. It's an ongoing, embarrassing battle that I have to fight to keep her from taking off. I wish I'd never read her that book.
ann_of_loxley's Avatar ann_of_loxley 07:56 AM 04-21-2008
I personally dont like the 'spot' books - you know that little dog named spot?

One book my son had started off with spot hiding and his mother said 'Naughty spot, its dinner time'!...why is he naughty for wanting to play hide and seek and why is his mother insisting he have dinner at a specific time?

In the end it says: Theres spot! - Good boy spot. Eat up your dinner!...
So now we are labeling spot a 'good boy' for his actions and creating eating issues!

lol

Perhaps I read too deep into these books ...But I dont like them.
Not to mention there is a crocodile in it which terrifies my son!
LukesMum's Avatar LukesMum 08:31 AM 04-21-2008
WHat about those DAVID books....the same author who wrote "DUck on a BIke" . It s all about this poor little boy always getting yelled at....I hate those books.

Also, when they get older--what is the deal with the LemonySnicket books everyone loves? They made my ds 8 cry!!!
Pam_and_Abigail's Avatar Pam_and_Abigail 09:04 AM 04-21-2008
Glad I'mnot the only one who critisizes kids books. I am really picky.
I hate Robert Munsch's book about the little boy (Mortimer?) who won't go to sleep and his family YELLS at him to go to sleep and eventually calls the police.

And how about the Dr. Suess one where the tweedle beetles battle in a puddle?

It's like kids' authors never stop to think about how the themes and ideas in their books might harm the young, impressionable mind.
onlyboys's Avatar onlyboys 09:09 AM 04-21-2008
I can't stand Babar. And, I don't like Horton Hatches an Egg, either.

I refuse to read the Dr. Suess one with the tweedle beedle battles, but that's because I hate tongue twisters. It's called Fox in Socks.
muttmom92's Avatar muttmom92 09:46 AM 04-21-2008
I have to say that one of dd's favorite books is Fox in Sox. I get the point about the violence, but she just likes seeing if mommy or daddy can get through the whole thing without making a mistake.

One book I HATE is Guess How Much I Love You. The poor little bunny keeps trying to tell the big rabbit how much he loves him/her, but the big rabbit keeps one-upping the little one. It becomes a big competition and and the big rabbit has to get the last word.
JSerene's Avatar JSerene 09:54 AM 04-21-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by muttmom92 View Post
One book I HATE is Guess How Much I Love You. The poor little bunny keeps trying to tell the big rabbit how much he loves him/her, but the big rabbit keeps one-upping the little one. It becomes a big competition and and the big rabbit has to get the last word.
This struck me as very funny!

I also hate kid's books that call children naughty.

My kid has been reenacting those David books since we read them a year ago - I'm also not a fan.
Meems's Avatar Meems 10:04 AM 04-21-2008
Katielady's Avatar Katielady 10:18 AM 04-21-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by sofiabugmom View Post
I remember reading one of the older Curious George books, thankfully before I read it to DD, and after Curious George had made a mistake, he "wished he was dead".

Not a message I want to give to my kid, thanks.

Another one that had a negative impact on DD was "When Sophie Gets Angry, Really Really Angry." It's supposed to be about how a little girl handles anger. Here's the problem: She runs. "She runs and runs until she can't run any more."

So you know what DD does when she's angry or makes a big mistake? She runs, no matter where we are. Public park, museum, beach, you name it. It's an ongoing, embarrassing battle that I have to fight to keep her from taking off. I wish I'd never read her that book.
1) DS loves curious george books, so the other day I got the original story out of the library. I had forgotten how it went! I vaguely remembered that the man with the yellow hat saved george from the jungle or something. How it actually goes is that the man sees George and says, "What a nice monkey. I'd like to have him for a pet!" Then he captures/kidnaps him and brings him back home. George has a few adventures, then the man brings him to the zoo to live. "What a perfect place for George to live!" it says as the final line, or something like that. YUCK! Gotta be careful with these old books written at a time when values were so different.

2) That running thing sounds awful! Darn that book. Hopefully she'll grow out of it soon. Maybe you could find a book that suggests something better to do when you're mad?
birdie22's Avatar birdie22 10:47 AM 04-21-2008
How about Bedtime for Frances? She can't sleep, and they keep sending her back to bed. Finally her dad says he's going to give her a spanking if she gets up one more time, so she falls asleep. First of all, a spanking?! and second, since when is that going to magically make a child go to sleep?!

I was also really shocked how the animals in Beatrix Potter are 1. always getting spanked, 2. killing and eating each other. I know that foxes eat rabbits, but when the rabbits are wearing clothes, that's just scary.
sunnmama's Avatar sunnmama 10:52 AM 04-21-2008
I like almost all these books. In particular, I love the Berenstain bears and anything Munsch, the former because they are so syrup-y sweet, and the latter because kids find them hilarious. I think that toddlers might not be the target audience for Muncsh books, however.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sofiabugmom View Post
Another one that had a negative impact on DD was "When Sophie Gets Angry, Really Really Angry." It's supposed to be about how a little girl handles anger. Here's the problem: She runs. "She runs and runs until she can't run any more."
Aw, I'm sorry that this book had a negative impact on your dd. It was one of dd's favorites as a preschooler, because it showed such strong emotion--anger as strong as she felt it. My dd was too fearful to run, but we did use it as a launching point to talk about ways she could cope with anger.

The one book that bugs me is the classic Bedtime for Frances. In the end, fearful little Frances stays in bed because she is more fearful of a spanking from her father : Nice! We still read it, though, and talked about how that isn't so caring

eta--crossposted with Birdie
waiflywaif's Avatar waiflywaif 10:53 AM 04-21-2008
I really hate those parental stalker books, such as The Runaway Bunny. Creepy.

And normally I LOVE Kevin Henkes, especially for school-age kids---his descriptions of kid-emotions and peer-group stuff are fantastic and the illustrations adorable. That said, there's one called Owen that you might want to avoid, all about parents trying to trick a kid into giving up a comfort object (they steal the blanket, dip it in vinegar, etc). Kind of weird.

And yes, the Berenstain Bears are HORRIBLE and I won't have them in my house. Sexist, stupid, awful books.

I got annoyed when DD was a toddler and my MIL gave her some kind of "Teeth Are Not For Biting" book (don't remember if that really was the title or not). She had NEVER bitten anyone (and not to this day). I can see getting that book if you're already having a problem, but can we not give the kid any ideas, please?
cutekid's Avatar cutekid 10:54 AM 04-21-2008
There's lots of books i avoid. There's also some TV shows I avoid. I am just not a fan of "life lesson books". The same thing with TV shows that try to teach some moral lesson.

Denise
BeagleMommy's Avatar BeagleMommy 11:15 AM 04-21-2008
Meems,
What is horrible about that book? I've never heard of it, but it doesn't look awful.
honeybee's Avatar honeybee 11:15 AM 04-21-2008
Ds loves the Berenstein Bears Books. I find them a little tedious and not the best use of language, but nothing really objectionable.

Guess How Much I Love You is one of our favorites, too. I just think it's a good example of hyperbole. I don't see it as one-upmanship. But then, when I was a kid I used to play the "I love you THIS much" game and just thought it was fun.

Ditto for Seuss's Horton Hatches an Egg. I'm also not crazy about David, but we enjoyed Duck on a Bike.

I did think Babar and Curious George were horrid. But the books I really hate are the tv-cartoon books. They are so poorly written and stilted. Ds brought two Dora books home from a RIF giveaway at school. I HATE them. They are awful. But ds loves them. They are his favorites. So, I try not to grimace too much when he asks for them. Thankfully, they are very short. And I just make sure he also has some good-quality literature, too.

Another book many of you would probably think is horrible is Munsch's Alligator Baby. Two inept parents go to the zoo instead of the hospital by mistake, and have their baby. Then they repeatedly bring home different animal babies instead of their baby. Finally, the big sister has to go find her baby brother herself. It is so ridiculous and funny, though, that you just can't take it seriously. We like it.
milliemom's Avatar milliemom 11:19 AM 04-21-2008
I also have had a problem reading many different childrens stories to my boys due to the horrible content. I find myself editing as I read along. I have also taken a black marker and blacked out certain passages in my childrens books so than when my husband reads them he will not be able to read the offensive material. I also try to skim through a story at the store if I think it might be questionable so that I don't have to get rid of it once we get home. (I discovered I needed to do this because so many stories written for children are very mean, violent, sexist, and speak of topics in ways I choose not to) :
Daffodil's Avatar Daffodil 11:32 AM 04-21-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pam_and_Abigail View Post
I hate Robert Munsch's book about the little boy (Mortimer?) who won't go to sleep and his family YELLS at him to go to sleep and eventually calls the police.
Yes, I just hated that one! That was one of the few books I've ever disliked so much I got rid of it.

I like, or at least don't mind, most of the other books mentioned, and so do my kids. I love Bedtime for Frances and Beatrix Potter.
ann_of_loxley's Avatar ann_of_loxley 11:58 AM 04-21-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by birdie22 View Post
How about Bedtime for Frances? She can't sleep, and they keep sending her back to bed. Finally her dad says he's going to give her a spanking if she gets up one more time, so she falls asleep. First of all, a spanking?! and second, since when is that going to magically make a child go to sleep?!

I was also really shocked how the animals in Beatrix Potter are 1. always getting spanked, 2. killing and eating each other. I know that foxes eat rabbits, but when the rabbits are wearing clothes, that's just scary.
OMG!!!

They made a tele show of those books called 'Frances' - WE LOVE them... And I remember that one about her not being able to sleep....BUT they obviously left out the spanking part!!! ...

I just think OMG its so strange that you mention that BECAUSE...My best friend and I love watching this show and love having our children watch it BECAUSE...its the most GD show we have ever seen!...they have obviously changed it quite a lot becuase I would even say the show is borderline consensual living! lol

But yes - I love peter rabbit art myself and I buy my son the toys/clothes/etc...but the books...we will NOT be reading! They are sooooooo horrible!!!
waiflywaif's Avatar waiflywaif 12:23 PM 04-21-2008
Have to add that I'm not really a fan of Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, either. I loved them as a kid but they kind of bug me now---some of the "behavior" stuff is irksome and I don't like how all the mothers are portrayed as helpless and befuddled and gossipy. Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle herself is a cool character, but all those incompetent paretns are just annoying.
Kwynne's Avatar Kwynne 12:24 PM 04-21-2008
Enid Blyton books, of which I had many when I was a kid. Guess my parents didn't realize how many "gollywogs" there were in the books.

And so all those Noddy books are out. I don't care if they've updated them to be less racist, the history alone makes me shiver.

As a queer, interracial family with a mixed raced son and heavy duty feminist politics, I find many books offensive. We spend a lot of time picking out our books, and it saddens to me to see what kinds of messages are being sent to little ones.

For that reason, we often get my partner's mother to write our books. She is an artist and does a great job!
ecoteat's Avatar ecoteat 12:59 PM 04-21-2008
What's that Llama one where the kid is in bed screaming for his mother and she won't come because she's on the phone or doing laundry or something? I hate that book!

I read some Curious George books to my 3rd grade students a few years ago (at their request) and couldn't get through them with interjecting little comments about how wrong it is to kidnap an animal and all that. My kids just rolled their eyes at me!

Some of the Peter Rabbit books bother me, but dd loves them. We do some revising as we read them.
nabigus's Avatar nabigus 01:11 PM 04-21-2008
the "I'll love you forever" book. I know a lot of people adore it, but the love the mother displays seems... I don't know, needy and stalkerish and downright weird to me. I can't even read it.

My ds LOVES "When Sophie gets angry," in part because I think it deals with big emotions. Sometimes when we're out at the park, he'll say "The wide world comforts her."
verde's Avatar verde 01:33 PM 04-21-2008
My DD loves the Spot books. I agree with you, though, that I don't like that reference to Spot being naughty. I think that's one of the earliest books of the series and the others aren't like that. The video of the same story does NOT say that Spot is naughty.

The book I hate is Going on a Bear Hunt. Why???are they going on a bear hunt? And look what happens when they actually find a bear? Sheesh.
ann_of_loxley's Avatar ann_of_loxley 01:36 PM 04-21-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by verde View Post
My DD loves the Spot books. I agree with you, though, that I don't like that reference to Spot being naughty. I think that's one of the earliest books of the series and the others aren't like that. The video of the same story does NOT say that Spot is naughty.

The book I hate is Going on a Bear Hunt. Why???are they going on a bear hunt? And look what happens when they actually find a bear? Sheesh.
Aww but they all get in bed together at the end! - Do you think they co sleep? lol
momtoS's Avatar momtoS 02:06 PM 04-21-2008
LOve you forever....my daughter has issues with the mom using a ladder to visit her son. She told me if she were to visit...wouldn't she use a key and the stairs???

I don't like Snow White, 101 Dalmations...to much evil....
Kavita's Avatar Kavita 02:20 PM 04-21-2008
One book I don't exactly like is The Snowman by Raymond Briggs.

Synopsis: this kid is all excited because it's snowing and he goes out and builds a snowman. That night he can't sleep because he's thinking about his great snowman and he goes out into the yard to see it. The snowman winks at him and then starts walking, and they play and the snowman comes into the house with him and plays with all the amazing stuff in the house and tries on the parents' clothes and then takes the kids hand and they fly all over the world and then they land back in the garden and the kid goes back inside and back to bed. In the morning he wakes up, runs immediately out into the garden to see his snowman, and the snowman is a melted pile with a hat sitting there on top of it!

I mean, what exactly is this about??! Death? The afterlife? Dreaming? Letting secret friends into your house in the middle of the night while your parents are sleeping?! Was the stuff in the middle where the snowman comes alive a dream? It's just kind of weird, and oddly sad and unsettling.
muttmom92's Avatar muttmom92 03:25 PM 04-21-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by nabigus View Post
the "I'll love you forever" book. I know a lot of people adore it, but the love the mother displays seems... I don't know, needy and stalkerish and downright weird to me. I can't even read it.
Oh, I forgot about that book! It's so creepy!
zoshamosha's Avatar zoshamosha 05:09 PM 04-21-2008
I agree about the OG Curious George--it's a really bad book. But we enjoy the Curious George anthology with stories like Curious George goes to the library or Curious George goes camping, they are pretty boring but innocuous enough--and dd loves them.

The worst book I've gotten recently is "I'm a Big Sister." I don't remember the author. My mom just got it for DD because, well, she's going to be a big sister.

In the book, the new big sister sees her parents taking care of the new baby and asks "Did I drink out of a bottle when I was a baby?" or "Did I sleep in a crib when I was a baby?"

The AP mom in me cringed when I read it. I had to explain to DD that, no, she never drank out of a bottle when she was a baby and she never slept in a crib either, and for that matter, she doesn't sleep in a "big girl bed" now because she sleeps in the big bed with everyone else. I had to put the book away
Mary-Beth's Avatar Mary-Beth 05:16 PM 04-21-2008
I just notice how many books have the character give up/cry and then suddenly the problem is solves. Nothing wrong with releasing an emotion like crying but it hardly ever solves a problem...and giving up doesn't fix much either. However, I see it all the time in books for kids.
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