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wshaffer
On reading to children... 
6th-Feb-2011 09:21 am
tea-or-book
I'm sorry to say it, because I'm sure it's quite educational in its own way, but Curious George Learns to Count from 1 to 100 is a bit of a purgatory for the adult reader. It's not so bad at first, as you recite your way through the litany of 11 yellow hats, 16 rubber duckies, and 26 pancakes, but it's hard not to despair once you get to the 55 paper airplanes, and realize you still have nearly halfway to go. Even Older Nephew declared, after the second time through, "That's a long book." I heartily agreed, upon which he added, "but a really good one!" My assent was less whole-hearted there.

The Little Train gets a tad tedious by the fifth time through, but even I learned some things about trains from it.

Something quite extraordinary happened the first time I read Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day - both nephews sat absolutely still in rapt silence through the entire book. (Younger Nephew is not really so much into being read to - although he will sit and 'read' a book to himself - while Older Nephew usually interrupts a reading every few pages to ask questions about the story, as is entirely right and proper. In fact, he often asks the same questions at the same points in the story each time.) The rapt silence wasn't repeated for the second and third readings, but did prompt a quite lengthy conversation with Older Nephew about having bad days, visiting Australia, getting mad at one's friends, and preferences in breakfast cereal. I had a very difficult time explaining why Alexander doesn't like kissing on TV, though.
Comments 
6th-Feb-2011 06:16 pm (UTC)
Ha ha. I remember with great fondness an essay where Dave Barry "reviewed" a book belonging to his toddler daughter, which was called something like Our Friends on the Farm and he commented that there wasn't a lot of narrative direction. I wonder if old nephew likes it because it postpones bedtime more effectively than other books?

Alexander is a work of genius. I still think of it on bad days and look forward to reading it to my son. :)

Edited at 2011-02-06 06:16 pm (UTC)
6th-Feb-2011 09:36 pm (UTC)
If you like Terry Pratchett, you might check out his "Where's My Cow?" which is a sendup of the whole genre and yet also really sweet.

One of the ironies of reading to children is that it sounds awesomely fun, but with so many of the books, you do get bored quite easily. And many children just have poor taste, sadly; Mac will demand the inane "Go to Sleep, Dotty," endlessly.
7th-Feb-2011 06:27 pm (UTC)
I'll have to look for "Where's My Cow?"

In one of the essays in The Language of the Night, Ursula LeGuin has a line that goes something like, "Children will happily read junk - and it is good for them." I think of that often when I'm reading something that seems hopelessly inane.
7th-Feb-2011 06:25 am (UTC) - Current favorite
Anonymous
My current favorite is No, David. On which every page shows David doing something he shouldn't do. Apparently the author originally wrote it when he was 5, his mom found it while clearing out the attic, and then he took the idea and made a children's book out of it -and won a Caldecott! Diana
(I always tell them I need to take a break at the 50 states...and then hope they forget to finish the rest)
7th-Feb-2011 06:31 pm (UTC) - Re: Current favorite
Ha! That sounds awesome! (And I'm totally filing away that take a break trick for future use.)
7th-Feb-2011 08:49 pm (UTC) - Re: Current favorite
Mo Willem's "Don't Let the Pigeon...." series has a similar theme, and kids have massive fun responding to the pigeon's demands. "Please, just five more minutes?" NO! "All my friends get to!" NO! "I'll be really good tomorrow!" NO!
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