Wednesday, February 13, 2008

What a Racket

My kid loves books. This is a good trait in an 18-month-old, but it has led to my discovery of an evil empire - the children's book industry.

It all started with "Goodnight Moon". Surprisingly, no-one gave us a copy before the baby's birth, so I bought one. I read it to him at bedtime right from the start. At first he would just gaze at the pictures. Soon he had favorites, the cow jumping over the moon and the comb, brush, and bowl of mush.

I bought him more books, he received some as gifts, and a friend gave us a large library that had been her grand-children's. Soon there were more favorites: "Are You My Mother?" and Sandra Boynton's "Doggies" among others. We continued reading books at bedtime, and he would often pull books off of his shelf during the day. He is a chewer, so some nicer hardbacks are on a shelf he can't reach. Many of the board books are barely hanging together. I bought an enormous lap edition of "Goodnight Moon" when the old one fell apart. The Little Golden books are quite gnawed on, but it always seemed wise to encourage a love of books.

Two things have occurred recently that has made book reading a bit tedious: the love of trains has escalated and the attention span has lengthened. We have graduated to the "nice" books, which are not to be chewed. The current favorite is "The Little Engine That Could". Ugh! The Kid's attention span has not lengthened enough. There are just too many words per page, and he doesn't let us finish one before he is trying to turn to the next. The good little boys and girls over the mountain would be appalled. Then he wants to hear the partial story again and again. I never really minded reading the short books over and over, but there's something about the disjointed story that bugs me. And this was one of my favorites as a kid. Why did they re-illustrate it? I need to look at an old one, was there something that is now politically incorrect?

So last week I got a Thomas the Tank Engine book with a simple plot just to break up the monotony. Big mistake. I had to read it at least fifteen times today alone. Oh, and that is in addition to numerous foreshortened renditions of "The Little Engine that Could", our total book time has increased. I don't know what's worse, a disjointed story or a simplistic story. We borrowed some books from the library, one of them became a favorite. I'm going to have to take the books back by myself, I guess.

Obviously I didn't learn from the Thomas incident. I went to the bookstore this afternoon desperate for some new books. I decided on Thomas books with not too many words, but not too few either. The children's book industry sure has a racket going. They make books that kids get addicted to, knowing the parents will become comatose reading them over and over again, forcing us to buy more and more to escape brain damage. All in all, we feel very lucky that The Kid enjoys books so much. He loves to take us by the hand and lead us to the special bookshelf. At night he gets a book, gets under the covers and motions for me to put my head on the pillow and read. I just can't wait until he can make all the funny voices.


Kristen said...

Love of books from an early age is so important. I have such fond memories of reading to my kids every night. As they got older we took turns reading. I was sad when first one and then the other dropped out of reading time around age 12 or
13. Yeah, there were lots of nights when out of fatigue I gave the abridged read-aloud! Thankfully they both continue to love reading.

Janice said...

I have fond memories of my father reading to me, with one cat or another on the bed, too.
I was the classic kid reading with a flashlight under the covers, too. My parents got me the whole Nancy Drew collection.