yucky kids fiction and read alouds - Mothering Forums
Unschooling > yucky kids fiction and read alouds
purslaine's Avatar purslaine 10:29 AM 09-12-2011

For a number of years I have let DD exclusively pick the books she wants from the library. She is still read to a lot.

 

Here is the thing, though, and I am not a book snob (far, far from it).  The books she picks are crap.  Wizard of Waverly place and Disney fairy type of books.  This has been consistent for years.  

 

I am thinking of  picking books for her for our daily read alouds.  We have the Penderwicks on the go right now and I am one happy camper.  She likes it, but struggles a bit with listening.  Maybe being able to enjoy better quality literature will come in time?

 

On a personal note - until very recently I was the queen of chick lit.  Oh, I could recommend other stuff - but chick lit is what I read.  ( A lot of this goes back to high school and being forced to read one dreadful depressing book after another).  As part of my job description I am now hosting book clubs so I have to read outside my genre.  I am so pleased I was pushed outside my comfort zone!  I have learned, been inspired, new worlds seem opened up, etc, etc. I do still like a little chick lit, though.   This positive experience may be why I am questioning reading junk to her over and over again.

 

I will let her pick any book she wants to read to herself - but I want to put the kabosh on me reading crap to her.

 

I am pretty much determined to do this (and labels smabels if it is not USing   orngtongue.gif) however I am curious:

 

Does your child gravitate towards ick in books and do you encourage them to step outside their comfort zone?  How?

 

 



hildare's Avatar hildare 11:59 AM 09-12-2011

no idea about the taste issue for my little one yet, but i absolutely support the idea that if you're reading it out loud you should at least have half a say in what you read.  plus, if you try to pick a great variety of things, you might expose her to stuff she'd never touch on her own. 

i have found it's almost impossible to read things out loud that you don't at least like a little bit.  ugh.


Amatullah0's Avatar Amatullah0 01:55 PM 09-12-2011

What about giving her a list of, say, 5 books, that you can read together. She can pick which of the 5 books to read from, and then you read the book together(maybe she reads a paragraph, then you read a paragraph, and so on.) She still gets to read however many of whichever books she likes, but you also get to both enjoy this book together. What are some of her other interests? I really liked the Dear America and Roald Dahl books when I was younger. I really enjoyed The Wind in the Willows and Laura Ingalls books as bedtime stories too. I believe the paragraphs are shorter in the latter two books, and my mom and I would switch off reading paragraphs when I was just starting to read longer books. 


purslaine's Avatar purslaine 02:01 PM 09-12-2011

I do like the 5 book idea!  

 

 


Callimom's Avatar Callimom 04:36 PM 09-12-2011

What about reading her the "classics" (however you want to define them) to her.

Or doing a mother daughter book club?

Or alternate with her picking one and then you picking one. You could pick a "better"  ie more substantial version of what she wants to read about so she can start to hear the difference in the depth of the story, the language etc. 

Life is too short to read crappy books imo.

If they want to read them that's one thing, but I want to enjoy what we read too.

Karen


shoefairy3's Avatar shoefairy3 05:54 PM 09-12-2011

If I am doing the reading, I pick the book out.  If the kids are obviously not enjoying it, we will stop it and pick something different.  As for their personal reading time, I dont like to make a big deal out of their choices, but will try to offer them some I think they will like.


SweetSilver's Avatar SweetSilver 06:34 PM 09-13-2011

You could try the 2-vote system.  Only read books that get a "yes" vote from *both* of you.  My sister and her highly opinionated dd did this for clothes shopping.  I don't see why it wouldn't work with books as well.


lach's Avatar lach 09:09 PM 09-13-2011

My parents were big on read-alouds, and I don't remember ever having any say in what they read to us.  It was always really good, though.  I think it's fine for you to dictate what you want to read to her.  She can read whatever she wants on her own time.


zinemama's Avatar zinemama 11:12 PM 09-13-2011
I do not think there is anything wrong with being a book snob. The fact is, there are a lot of terrible books out there (kid and adult). If my kids bring something home that I don't like, sure, I'm not going to forbid them to read it. But I see it as part of my job as a parent to steer them toward high-quality literature that I know they'll like, but that they don't know about or might not naturally pick up. And I always pick the novels I read to them. Why read bad books aloud?
purslaine's Avatar purslaine 07:00 AM 09-14-2011


Quote:
Originally Posted by zinemama View Post

I do not think there is anything wrong with being a book snob.


I disagree with this for personal reading.  I think as long as they are reading it is all good!  I also thing people have the right to spend their free time as they like without defending  it- even reading stuff other consider drivel.

 

Read alouds are different.  At this moment I will try the 2 yesses idea, and if that does not work - the pick from these 5 idea.  I am reading too, so I should get to enjoy the books as well.

 

Where I get a little hung up is on whether I will be sending the message to her that her book choices aren't good enough. .  While I am partly doing this because I want to enjoy the readings more - part of me is doing it to get better literature into her and because of a judgement I am making on her books.      I am less comfortable with that as I believe people have the right to like what they like.  Another part of my brain, though, goes  - no, you are her mom, it is good to force the hand a little in exposing her to things she may enjoy and may tell better stories, be better written, etc.

 

  

 

 


hildare's Avatar hildare 07:54 AM 09-14-2011


Quote:
Originally Posted by kathymuggle View Post

 

Where I get a little hung up is on whether I will be sending the message to her that her book choices aren't good enough. .  While I am partly doing this because I want to enjoy the readings more - part of me is doing it to get better literature into her and because of a judgement I am making on her books.      I am less comfortable with that as I believe people have the right to like what they like.  Another part of my brain, though, goes  - no, you are her mom, it is good to force the hand a little in exposing her to things she may enjoy and may tell better stories, be better written, etc.

 

 


can you not just tell her that you want to pick the things to read out loud or that maybe you want to share some of your childhood favorites with her?  that might be one good way to do it.  i don't think she would interpret this as a judgment call from you.  i really don't. 

i've worked as a children's librarian, and i have never once seen a kid be anything but enthusiastic about a recommendation..  they don't always like the book, but they are so excited about reading and that you took the time to think about what they have liked and what they might like, that it never seemed to be an issue.  i really like your approach, too..  i think it is important to read whatever you want.  even if it's crappy....  :)


moominmamma's Avatar moominmamma 09:02 AM 09-14-2011


Quote:
Originally Posted by kathymuggle View Post

Where I get a little hung up is on whether I will be sending the message to her that her book choices aren't good enough. . 


Present it as a matter of interest and taste, rather than a judgement on inherent quality. In our family we talk about tastes and genres in literature a lot. We all know from experience that some books appeal to younger readers, some more to girls, some more to adults, and of course everyone has different interests, so not everyone is bound to enjoy every book. It's great to have an open mind and be willing to stretch yourself a little, but it makes perfect logical sense that when two or more people are sharing the reading of a single book, the book should be enjoyable to both of them. It's just common decency to consider others' tastes: you wouldn't cook eggplant for dinner every night even if you loved it, if you knew your children detested it. You would take their tastes into account. 

 

Don't say "I don't want to read these books anymore: they're horrible." Say "I noticed I haven't been enjoying our readalouds much for the last while, because the kind of books we're reading are those that are written to appeal mostly to kids. Adults generally aren't really interested in them. There are lots of books that appeal to both kids and adults. Let's try to find some of those for us." If she doesn't get it, if she insists "But these are good, mom! How can you not like them?" you can invoke the food tastes metaphor. "Hey, lots of people love coconut ice cream, but you hate it. It's weird -- people just like different things. There's no accounting for taste. We need to find books that are like maple walnut ice cream -- books we both find delicious."

 

Miranda


moominmamma's Avatar moominmamma 09:07 AM 09-14-2011


Quote:
Originally Posted by hildare View Post

i've worked as a children's librarian, and i have never once seen a kid be anything but enthusiastic about a recommendation..  they don't always like the book, but they are so excited about reading and that you took the time to think about what they have liked and what they might like, that it never seemed to be an issue.  


LOL, I take your point ... but yesterday our librarian enthusiastically recommended a graphic mystery series to my dd8 and she nodded and grinned and signed out a couple of those books instead of a couple she had already picked out, and when we got out the door she said "These look really stupid. But I couldn't see how to say no without hurting his feelings."

 

Sometimes kids are a lot more honest with their parents than with librarians.

 

Miranda


4evermom's Avatar 4evermom 10:35 AM 09-14-2011

I like to find the place where our tastes overlap a little, both with books and movies.  I'll certainly read to ds what he wants.  But he is open to suggestions, knowing I pick things with his tastes in mind.  If reading is something you are doing together, it seems reasonable for you to pick books that you think you'll both like.  If you read a few chapters and dd hates the book, you can decide not to finish it.  Ds likes sci-fi.  It isn't classic lit but the books have a good vocabulary, are thought provoking, and I enjoy reading them, too.  I didn't like reading the Lightning Thief series to him (although I did it anyway) because I thought the language and sentence structure were kind of weak.  I don't think of myself as a snob but I guess I'm a little old school in that I expect non-dialogue sentences in a book to not end in prepositions:-)


OkiMom's Avatar OkiMom 08:35 PM 09-14-2011

Not a US but I do a lot of read alouds with my girls. What I do (they are younger though) is let them choose the topic and I choose the book. For example my oldest is really into horses right now so Im looking for a good horse book that is not depressing (I love Black Beauty but not for a 4 1/2 year old) that I could read to her. My middle loves monkeys so whenever I ask her she wants a monkey book..

For the picture books I read them they are allowed to pick out whatever they want. We have had some..umm.. interesting books that I thought were totally useless but they enjoyed. The chapter books I pick.


Nicole730's Avatar Nicole730 08:50 PM 09-14-2011

I clicked on this from new posts, and I just quickly skimmed your post...but what abut the Main Street books from Ann M. Martin?


crunchynerd's Avatar crunchynerd 10:53 AM 09-16-2011

Just wanted to commisserate, because my DD is 7 and is as likely to get sucked into anything cleverly marketed at her demographic, as anyone else. I don't know why the cartoon corporate franchise branded books have to be SOOOO bad, though! How hard can it be to write a book that is preferable to read aloud, over, say, reading Faulkner's "As I Lay Dying", aloud? That book was the WORST I ever had to plod through, and it's still better than the cartoon franchise crap.

 

On the other hand, I remember Flintstone's vitamins tasting great to me as a little kid (and spaghettios) and then a few years later, YUCK! So tastes do change, and maybe those corporations who spend so much researching and positioning their products, are on to something as to kids' tastes. On the first hand again, maybe it's more a matter of kids' tastes being molded by and limited to, the corporation's brands, by design, and we ought to do more to shield them from that influence so as to preserve a broader playing field for their worldviews, because they are amazingly impressionable at this age, and corporations know this very well, hence the wonderful science and art of branding. Works on all of us.

 

Me, I am making it very simple. I'm playing the unilateral parental prerogative card on the literary equivalent of a bag of neon cheetos with extra MSG, and saying, NO. In the same way that I offer a variety of healthy snack choices for her to choose from amongst, and a variety of healthy social contacts, and disallow the cheetos as snacks and 8 year olds in makeup and hooker outfits as friends, I am also ready limit offerings to an array of well-written, richly imaginative, books, that don't have the ulterior motive of positioning their brand in her head.

 

Thanks for bringing this up; it helped me clarify things to myself as well. 


Lillian J's Avatar Lillian J 11:09 AM 09-27-2011


Quote:
Originally Posted by kathymuggle View Post

Where I get a little hung up is on whether I will be sending the message to her that her book choices aren't good enough. .  While I am partly doing this because I want to enjoy the readings more - part of me is doing it to get better literature into her and because of a judgement I am making on her books.      I am less comfortable with that as I believe people have the right to like what they like.  Another part of my brain, though, goes  - no, you are her mom, it is good to force the hand a little in exposing her to things she may enjoy and may tell better stories, be better written, etc.

 



It never thought about limiting or directing my son's choices of books, but those I read to him were my own picks unless he requested something in particular. I just provided lots of wonderful books that I knew we'd both love, and I don't remember him ever not being interested in any of them. I think that oftentimes people will pick for themselves things that are easy to find - familiar things - but that they will still appreciate and enjoy other things they may not have discovered yet. The books I read to him were favorite memories of his childhood, and I've heard him telling his young adult friends about them - a recent girlfriend of his even mentioned, all wide eyed, that he'd told her about the books of myths I used to read to him. I may be wrong, but it seems to me that if you just assume she's going to love wonderful things you introduce to her, it may not feel so much like coercion. - Lillian


SweetSilver's Avatar SweetSilver 08:59 PM 09-28-2011


Quote:
Originally Posted by Lillian J View Post

I may be wrong, but it seems to me that if you just assume she's going to love wonderful things you introduce to her, it may not feel so much like coercion. - Lillian

With my daughter, it took me 2 years to open up The Hobbit.  Now we have read it together 3 times.  She finally let me read LOTR.  Finished....yay!!!!!  (She Loooved it and we now have a cat named Balrog.)  But she growls and refuses to read Harry Potter because there are no pictures and the ones there are are "silly".  Sigh!  I am dying to read Harry Potter to her.  Not even the promise of Dementors in #3 will convince her to continue on.  I assumed, but nope!  It's not all "Star Wars Epic Battles"  and "Garfield by the Pound" though.  She really loves the Twelve Labors of Hercules and other Greek myths.  Your viewpoint is a valiant and positive one and I wish I could embrace it as the truth, but alas!  
 

 


Lillian J's Avatar Lillian J 10:34 PM 09-28-2011

Oh, wow - you must have the patience of a saint.    tiphat.gif

 


Lillian


SweetSilver's Avatar SweetSilver 08:35 AM 09-29-2011


Quote:
Originally Posted by Lillian J View Post

Oh, wow - you must have the patience of a saint.    tiphat.gif

 

Lillian


If only!

 


lisser's Avatar lisser 09:24 AM 09-29-2011

I have my step son (who I am not homeschooling, not "allowed"), choose one book that he wants, and then I pick out a few, and he has to choose one from those. Its a good mix that he gets to read "junk", but that I also feel he is reading literature that will advance him as a person, stuff with substance.

 

Good luck!


onatightrope's Avatar onatightrope 09:53 AM 10-01-2011

Maybe I'm just mean. If my kids ask me to read a book I really dislike, I feel free to tell them I'd rather not read it because I don't like it, or I've read it too many times lately.  If they ask, I'll explain what I don't like about it, but usually they don't ask.  When I do criticize books they like, I am careful to be specific-- I find the plot too predictable, or I don't think the characters are very realistic, or whatever, I don't just say that it's junk.  On occasion I also offer commentary on a story while I read it, especially if the character is doing something I would hate to see in my home (we own a collection of Caillou storybooks, and that kid throws a LOT of fits, and never gets much parenting about them)-- that can make a book more bearable for me.

 

I definitely select books for my kids-- I think the process of selecting books can be really overwhelming for kids, and that can lead kids to stick with series they know they like, or books with great covers and pictures.  They don't have to read the books I choose, but they often will.  Somehow having them in the house makes them easier to choose than when we're at the library.


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