I’m an English teacher and a bona fide book lover. I know that reading is important for children, and I genuinely enjoy trips the library, cuddling on the couch with a good book, and even rereading the fun books. The operative word there being fun. Usually one of the best things my kids can say to me is “will you read me a story?” I’m willing to drop almost any activity, be it cleaning dishes or checking email to read to my kids. It is so joyous to read books about friendship like Duck and Goose, or whimsically illustrated non-fiction like Brat Meltzer’s I Am Albert Einstein. But sometimes, when I get to the couch and see their book picks, I cringe.
Sometimes they want to read really stupid books.
Now, people who know me understand that I don’t use the phrase “stupid book” lightly. I’m an English teacher who doesn’t censor her students’ independent reading. I appreciate the escapism of a romance novel, even when it has a trite plot. But some of these books my kids like? I just can’t stand it. First of all there are the Thomas the Tank Engine books. We don’t watch the show, but the books? Well, first there is the whole obsession with being “Really Useful” and “Really Busy” all the time. Then there are all the “lessons” about what bad things happen when an engine tries something new and not in their “job description.” Little lessons about making sure everyone “stays in their place.” Ugh. Then there are the early reader versions of the book that have minimal words and are just boring as heck, and frankly, barely make any sense.
There are also these Lego books that LP loves. They tell stories of spaceships taking off, farms being tended too, and fires being fought, all with the LEGOS. Now, I love Legos, and I love watching LP and IP build things with their Legos. But sometimes these quirky little stories with their tired puns and bizarre plot lines are a little much. Once in a while I can handle them, but when LP wants to read about the Lego forest fire (because THAT is realistic) over and over and over again sometimes I want to change the story so that all the yellow guys go down in a fiery blaze.
I am lucky that there are so many children’s books out there that both me and my kids can enjoy. We all love pretty much anything by Mo Willams, The Day the Crayon’s Quit, the whole Duck and Goose series, and of course Dr. Suess. So if I have to wade through a few Thomas and Lego journeys to get to read these gems to my kids, I can live with that. Because, even with a stupid book, nothing beats snuggling on the couch with two kids in my lap, eager for “one more story.”