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#1 of 16 Old 04-09-2008, 03:33 PM - Thread Starter
 
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This is just a muse-y post, but I'm curious to hear others' perspectives.

We are TV-free. We are also avid readers, and we work very hard to make sure that dd (almost 2) reads quality children's books--typically books reviewed in the NY Times book review or similar publications, classics, Caldecott award winners, etc.

Many "classic" and quality books now come with licensed products, however. Dd has the original Madeline, for instance--and she also has a large Madeline plush doll purchased by Grandma. She *loves* the two Knuffle Bunny books by Mo Willems, and she has a little stuffed Knuffle Bunny (also purchased by Grandma) from Barnes and Noble. I'm not sure how I feel about this. On the one hand, all of her other dolls and stuffed animals are not licensed characters. And, she only knows these particular characters from books, and we don't do any other licensed merchandise (I could write a book about my quest for a plain, children's toothbrush). And yet...having the dolls still rubs my the wrong way, just the teeniest, tiniest bit...perhaps because I don't like the idea that even good books become fodder for the merchandising machine, even though I don't think there's real harm in having a Madeline doll.

On the flipside: the other grandparents are VERY into brands and licensed characters; they don't really "get" our disapproval of these things, but they try to adhere to our wishes. A bookstore near them recently had a big sale, and they called asking about a few books. I vetoed the Thomas the Tank Engine book (gah), but I didn't know anything about "Maisy's Morning on the Farm"--until the book showed up, with "Watch Maisy on Noggin'!" emblazoned across the front. And so now I wonder...does my objection to licensed characters "stand" if dd doesn't know the show and doesn't have more Maisy merchandise? The book itself seems fairly harmless (although, like many licensed products, fairly boring and devoid of literary merit). Or is it simply naive to think that she won't run to the Maisy section of the bookstore because of her ability to recognize the character? What happens when she goes to nursery school (next fall) and learns that Maisy is a TV character? Does it matter? Is her experience of Maisy different than her experience of non-licensed literary characters (Ferdinand, Edwina the Dinosaur, Harold from Harold and the Purple Crayon) if she NOT a participant in the media culture that surrounds them?

Anyway, I don't have answers to these questions. I just find that these products/books make me a wee bit queasy, and I can't quite figure out why.
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#2 of 16 Old 04-09-2008, 05:47 PM
 
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Well, my feelings have always been this: I will buy a childrens book -like Winnie the Pooh - that was written by the original author - in this case A.A. Milne. I will NOT buy the winnie the pooh books that are put out now by disney. I also will not buy books that are written soley based on a tv show or movie (like all the Dora and Diego books). I see no harm in your dd having a madeline doll if she likes the books and knows her from them. I have several "classic" winnie the pooh stuffed animals from my childhood that I adore and will pass on, b/c I truly loved the books. Also, as you mentioned, the books that feature tv characters usually have zero literary value to them at all. They are made simply to cash in on the name brand. I can't tell you how many kids I've babysat for that have tons of books, but only a few are "real" books - the rest are based on whatever shows that particular child likes.
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#3 of 16 Old 04-09-2008, 06:53 PM
 
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I am willing to buy or own the occasional character item if it is derived from a classic book (the book has to come first, not the TV show!) We have a Maisy doll that was given to us, though, and I'm okay with it because there isn't tons upon tons of Maisy crap everywhere we go and DD has no idea there's a show. My DD is interested in Thomas, though, and while she's never seen the show, I'd bve unthrilled about starting down the road of buying the stuff, because it IS everywhere.

We found a noncharacter toothbrush, by the way, but it was a long haul!

grateful mother to DD, 1/04, and DS, 2/08

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#4 of 16 Old 04-10-2008, 09:38 AM
 
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I feel pretty much the same as the other posters. We purchase the "classic" books and allow some merchandise but Thomas the Tank will never be okay (we read Tootle and other train books from the 50s that DH found at a Friends of the Library sale).

Oh, we did find a Crayola toothbrush. It's still advertising but at least it's not Dora

Julie - Wife to Louis, Mamma to Ben (11/06) and 2
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#5 of 16 Old 04-13-2008, 07:57 AM
 
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For me it's all about the product line attached to said story/ character. I kept Pooh out for a ling time because despite being a "classic children's book" it's also a multi-million dollar product line. He now knows who they are, but is old enough (almost 4) not to get swept up when he sees Pooh toothbrushes, etc. I bought him the original Pooh book (the dumbed down Disney ones are blah!) not long ago, but that's the only "commercial" book or item we have so far.

Along the same lines, I have had many people say to me "why don't you let him see the movie Cars, it's rated G" and so on... because we do rent the occasional DVD. But for our family, it's all about the commercialism along with the rating and snarky attitudes in the shows/ movies aimed at kids.

DS is THRILLED watching mostly documentaries when we have a movie night. Last night we downloaded a one hour doc about Koko the Gorilla who knows sign language and he LOVED it. And I don't have to worry about Koko products everywhere we turn.

There is SO MUCH to choose from in children's literature and even the occasional movie, a parent does not have to get sucked into the choices that are pre-packaged to lure your kids into a life-long "buy-me" relationship with a drawing.

Mama to Zach 6-18-04 & Naia 10-13-10 Partner to the sweetest DH. Loving our life afloat. TV Free!
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#6 of 16 Old 04-14-2008, 03:58 PM
 
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Allow me to play devil's advocate... let's say an adult moves here from another country... somewhere less developed. Do you think they would be kicking themselves for all of the Gilligan re-runs they're unable to chat around the water cooler about?

I think there is nothing sadder than people who have nothing else to talk about and relate to each other about than tv shows. If your conversation can't run deeper than a Seinfeld episode, then there are larger issues at work... don't ya think?

People can relate SOOOO many other ways. Popular music, books (gasp!), travel, sports, food, and even web sites and blogger stuff if that's your scene.

My hope is that by NOT being able to chat about memories of Dora and American Idol or whatever... my son will find faster, truer, deeper relationships with people than the "hey dude did you see what happened on Survivor last week?"

Mama to Zach 6-18-04 & Naia 10-13-10 Partner to the sweetest DH. Loving our life afloat. TV Free!
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#7 of 16 Old 04-14-2008, 04:56 PM
 
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Allow me to play devil's advocate... let's say an adult moves here from another country... somewhere less developed. Do you think they would be kicking themselves for all of the Gilligan re-runs they're unable to chat around the water cooler about?

I think there is nothing sadder than people who have nothing else to talk about and relate to each other about than tv shows. If your conversation can't run deeper than a Seinfeld episode, then there are larger issues at work... don't ya think?
I totally agree with you! That's why we're getting rid of the TV influence on the kids. I was just relating what my friend's experience was as a TV-free kid.

Do others on here have first-hand experiences having grown up without TVs? I don't want to make my kids guinea pigs in some social experiment (which I suppose is what TV has done to American kids for a couple generations now... heh) and have them suffer for it.

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People can relate SOOOO many other ways. Popular music, books (gasp!), travel, sports, food, and even web sites and blogger stuff if that's your scene.

My hope is that by NOT being able to chat about memories of Dora and American Idol or whatever... my son will find faster, truer, deeper relationships with people than the "hey dude did you see what happened on Survivor last week?"
Are sports and blogger sites deeper than the strategy, anthropology, and psychology of a Survivor season? Again, I honestly don't know the answers here.

I'm truly wondering about these things. I'm too new here to have a hard and fast opinion about them... yet.

Oh, and why did your post show up before mine but it is obviously in response and posted after? weird.
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#8 of 16 Old 04-14-2008, 08:42 PM
 
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We're new to the no-TV thing (long time wannabes, though). My kids (5 and 2) know who some of the PBS characters are and they are attracted to the books with those characters at the library, etc. I imagine as they mature they'll be less interested in those characters and we'll move away from them.

Here's my question, though.

I had a friend in law school who grew up completely TV free. He had no idea who Gilligan was or what Three's Company was, etc. This is not a bad thing in itself because those things are basically crap. However, he says he would never do that to his kids because of how much popular culture he missed. He was left completely out of conversations with friends, etc.

(No, really, we're getting to my question. I swear!)

I don't want my kids to be outcasts but I don't want them to be couch potatoes either. Couldn't exposure to the characters through books be a happy medium?
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#9 of 16 Old 04-15-2008, 12:57 AM
 
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Originally Posted by boatbaby View Post
Allow me to play devil's advocate... let's say an adult moves here from another country... somewhere less developed. Do you think they would be kicking themselves for all of the Gilligan re-runs they're unable to chat around the water cooler about?

I think there is nothing sadder than people who have nothing else to talk about and relate to each other about than tv shows. If your conversation can't run deeper than a Seinfeld episode, then there are larger issues at work... don't ya think?
I totally agree with you! That's why we're getting rid of the TV influence on the kids. I was just relating what my friend's experience was as a TV-free kid.

Do others on here have first-hand experiences having grown up without TVs? I don't want to make my kids guinea pigs in some social experiment (which I suppose is what TV has done to American kids for a couple generations now... heh) and have them suffer for it.

Quote:
People can relate SOOOO many other ways. Popular music, books (gasp!), travel, sports, food, and even web sites and blogger stuff if that's your scene.

My hope is that by NOT being able to chat about memories of Dora and American Idol or whatever... my son will find faster, truer, deeper relationships with people than the "hey dude did you see what happened on Survivor last week?"
Are sports and blogger sites deeper than the strategy, anthropology, and psychology of a Survivor season? Again, I honestly don't know the answers here.

I'm truly wondering about these things. I'm too new here to have a hard and fast opinion about them... yet.

Oh, and why did your post show up before mine but it is obviously in response and posted after? weird.
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#10 of 16 Old 06-15-2008, 07:37 PM
 
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(I could write a book about my quest for a plain, children's toothbrush). .
I know what you mean! It took me forever to find but Target has kids' toothbrushes with only a target symbol on them (and, they are super cheap too!) HTH

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#11 of 16 Old 06-15-2008, 10:35 PM
 
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To go back to the OP, I'm mostly okay with the characters, within reason, if the love of the character *stems* from the love of the book. Maisy is a great example. DD adores Maisy, has probably a dozen Maisy books. She couldn't have been more thrilled to receive a little Maisy doll for her birthday last year. Poor Maisy is actually dark gray now, she's been toted everywhere -- she is quite grimy with love. DD created a Tallulah out of a rattle (that honestly looked nothing like Tallulah) and acts out scenes from the books with the two of them. She has never seen the TV show, for what it's worth.
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#12 of 16 Old 06-16-2008, 12:43 AM
 
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I grew up without a tv. I saw bits and pieces at friends and relatives houses, and I'm raising my 6 and 8 year old dses without one. My 8 yo has seen Charlotte's Web at the theatre with me. I discourage it at friends houses because they are there to play, but truly, they'll see enough that they won't be outcasts. If anything their friends always want to come play here.
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#13 of 16 Old 06-17-2008, 06:33 PM
 
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My daughter has always been screen free, she's five on Saturday. We are big readers and she has a huge number of books. I personally steer clear of anything that is TV related in terms of books.
For the most part they seem to be pumped out without much thought beyond marketing. In fact, it is the marketing of it all that gets me the most. I really don't like the idea that a child may fall in love with a character in a book (a good thing!) then feel the need to spend a lot of money on junk as a result (not a good thing!)
I'm really not even keen on book characters that are heavily marketed TV related or not. One example is Angelina Ballerina, now for all I know maybe this is a TV show now but my daughter discovered these books through her best friend. There isn't anything bad about them per se but it is quite obvious that they are selling well and the publishers want to continue that because there's no real effort put into them. The stories are trite, formulaic and simple.
I went to a Toys R Us last weekend, for the first time since having a child. I was looking for something that I couldn't find anywhere else.
Anyways, I was absolutely shocked at the level of TV and movie tie ins. the aisles were labeled according to what character toys were on it. So, no "dolls" aisle, no "cars" aisle, well except the movie Cars and so on.

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Do others on here have first-hand experiences having grown up without TVs? I don't want to make my kids guinea pigs in some social experiment (which I suppose is what TV has done to American kids for a couple generations now... heh) and have them suffer for it.
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I don't want my kids to be outcasts but I don't want them to be couch potatoes either. Couldn't exposure to the characters through books be a happy medium?
I spent the middle of my childhood in Taiwan where the only TV we had was in Chinese and the occasional video tape (beta, thanks you very much LOL!) of Bonanza. I am certainly not a social outcast and it didn't take long as an adult to get what people were talking about and understand popular culture. Heck, I am in my 4th country and popular culture is different everywhere. I have no idea about the kids shows people watched in the 70's here anymore than I know what's on now.
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#14 of 16 Old 06-17-2008, 10:32 PM
 
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Do others on here have first-hand experiences having grown up without TVs? I don't want to make my kids guinea pigs in some social experiment (which I suppose is what TV has done to American kids for a couple generations now... heh) and have them suffer for it.
There was no TV in my house until I was in high school.

I saw TV occasionally at my grandmother's house. I remember two distinct times we *went* there for TV -- in fourth grade I was featured in a local news story when I won a contest, and I also remember watching going there to watch the finale of M*A*S*H, I guess that was a big deal, LOL. Also, I think my grandmother occasionally babysat and let me stay up late to watch the Love Boat and Fantasy Island. (!!)

Those are my only real TV memories from childhood. It didn't make me an outcast or a loser. I knew *enough* about shows from other kids discussing them that I didn't feel like a cultural reject if somebody mentioned Fonzie or Schoolhouse Rock.

It was a different time, though (I was born in '70) -- just three networks and cable TV wasn't nearly as pervasive an influence. It might be different for kids today.
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#15 of 16 Old 06-20-2008, 01:17 AM
 
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I am willing to buy or own the occasional character item if it is derived from a classic book (the book has to come first, not the TV show!) We have a Maisy doll that was given to us, though, and I'm okay with it because there isn't tons upon tons of Maisy crap everywhere we go and DD has no idea there's a show.
Same here. My problem with most of the stuff out there--Dora, Thomas, etc.--is that it is practically useless to try to escape it. Maisy, on the other hand, is not nearly as ubiquitous. My daughter, now 3.5, adored Maisy at age 2 and had quite a few of the books. I too had no idea it was a show until we received a Maisy book as a gift with the "Watch Maisy on Noggin" directive on the cover. I was peeved, but the Maisy love was already firmly in place. If it had been Thomas or Dora, then I might have tried harder to get it out of our house. But Maisy is, in my opinion, kind of cute, pretty harmless, and not as annoying as some characters out there. She's benign to a fault, yes, but still kinda cute.

I honestly don't think you have to worry about your daughter hearing about Maisy-on-the-tube at school. I mean, she might hear about it, but so what? My daughter has overheard many a kid talk on about Arthur or Thomas or whatnot, and it goes right over her head. If she doesn't have a reference for it, she doesn't care. And, if she did come to me and ask about Maisy on TV, I'd tell her the truth--that we don't have that channel on our TV or our computer. She really has no sense of what TV is all about anyway; the only thing it's used for in this house is for when Daddy wants to watch sports, which she has little interest in.
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#16 of 16 Old 06-20-2008, 05:33 PM
 
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I am willing to buy or own the occasional character item if it is derived from a classic book (the book has to come first, not the TV show!)
I agree. We do have some licensed character stuffed toys, but they're ones that came from classic books. (We have a bunch of Seuss characters, for instance, but the kids only know them from the books, not any of the movies.) I will admit to being a sucker for Pooh stuff though; I prefer the classic versions, but sometimes the Disney versions get in there too. However, we only have the original Milne classic books in the house and no movies, so that's all our kids know (and they *love* WtP and House at Pooh Corner). I can live with the Disney Pooh characters on things, and I probably wouldn't mind Madeline too much, but no Dora or Elmo or SpongeBob (I don't even think my kids know who any of those ones are). But part of the reason I'm okay with Pooh on stuff is because then I don't mind vetoing a million other characters on things. I'm not especially bugged by the occasional character on a toothbrush, but when Every Single Thing has a character on it, that gets on my nerves.

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