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Why Story Time Makes Me Need Prozac

Posted Thursday, Apr. 14, 2011  comments  Print Reprints
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I taught Drew about honeysuckles today and it felt like telling someone a juicy, wonderful secret. He loved them too.

 The end.

What? Are those words of thanks I hear from all of you for such a short blog entry? Hmm, that’s what I thought. Well, too bad. I’m just getting started.

Actually, the MORE interesting thing that happened today was: a dude dressed in professional biking gear pedaled down our street this afternoon at top speed…with his long, white beard flowing in the wind.  It flapped back around his shoulders like a feathery boa. He had a black helmet, slick-looking sunglasses, and what appeared to be a Lhasa Apso attached to his face.

 “There goes Santa,” remarked Drew matter-of-factly.

“Why is Santa riding a bike?” I asked.

Drew looked confused, not because he didn’t know why Santa was riding a bike but at why I would ask at all. If Santa wants to ride his souped-up ride at breakneck speed, well then that is his business and no one else’s. He’s Santa for God’s sake. Leave him in peace.

Drew seems to be losing patience with me.

Of course, the feeling is mutual.

Story times are more and more becoming the crucible for this.

I don’t know about you, but ever since I started reading books to my children, there has always been one or two I grow to despise over time. By now I have a Hall of Infamy of books I would like to burn like in Fahrenheit 451 where the firemen burn books “for the good of humanity.” I never knew I could have such strong feelings towards pieces of cardboard.

There was “Dr. Seuss’ ABC’s” which takes about a fortnight to read, if you live in England, or two weeks if you’re a hillbilly.

Before that it was “Boom Boom Beep Beep Roar” which mostly involved making a lot of primal sounds with your glottis.

One book called “At the Beach” had a suction cup on the back of it that was magnetically charged or something and was so powerful it would suck to your face if you got it anywhere close.

I made the mistake of purchasing “Potty Time With Elmo” which has actual buttons for sound effects — flush! — and sometimes in the dead of night we will hear Elmo exclaiming eerily, “Hooray! You did it!”

Drew always insists on reading the “What Do You See/Hear” books HIMSELF, and any animal he can’t remember its name he calls a “noceros” because he instinctively knows the “rhinoceros” to be an obscure and hard-to-say animal. That’s not particularly annoying, really, but I thought it was a cute story.

But I think I have found my most hated book of all time. It is titled “Trucks.” Sounds pretty innocuous, I know, but it has all the elements of an irritating children’s book. In fact, if you are considering a career in writing children’s literature, let this serve as a helpful guide of what NOT to do when you pen your masterpiece, as illustrated by “Trucks.”  

- Sliding cardboard pieces. “Trucks” is essentially a learning book in which kids match pictures of various trucks to their colors on the opposite page, or to the type of person who drives them, or to the words that represent them. The “answers” are hidden behind little cardboard doors that slide open to reveal the correct answer. Not only do these cardboard pieces threaten to break, tear, jam or otherwise malfunction, but they put the pace of the story entirely in the hands of the child. And the child will wield that power to its fullest extent. By now, Drew KNOWS all the answers inside and out, but he has learned to add 15 minutes to story time just by teasing me, putting on a big show of asking, “Is it THIS one? No? How about THIS one? Or THIS one? No? What about THIS one? No?” Never engineer a book’s pace to read at the mercy of the child. Parents will hate you. I will hate you.

- Lowercase letters are bad for the self-esteem. If the only words in your book are meant for the child to see and recognize, then please use capital letters. I know, I know, kids eventually need to learn to recognize a lowercase “d” but if Drew calls it an “e” again and I have to correct him he might just go eat worms.

- Books that make the parent feel stupid. I admit, I’ve learned a lot from “Trucks.” I never knew what a Skid Steer was before, or a Backhoe Loader. Do you? Books like this make me wonder about what I’ve been DOING with my life and if I truly know all I need to know to be a successful adult. 

I could go on. But three is a nice complete numeric list. I think the biggest factor is sheer number of times you read a book. Even the best books turn into Steve Urkel after 800 times through, so it’s always an inverse relationship where how much your child LOVES a book will eventually determine how much you HATE it. It’s sad, really.

Maybe you and your child can find common ground elsewhere, like your shared love of honeysuckles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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