What the kids are reading these days….

Because I have yet to find one job that completely covers all of my living expenses, I baby-sit. You might be thinking, “Don’t you teach elementary school?” To that I answer, yes, I teach (part-time) AND I get to spend my days off with the tots of Chicago’s upper middle class. How did I get so lucky?

In all seriousness, I do like kids. We have fun… usually. Because of my jobs, I have been reading lots of children’s books lately – and I have to tell you, I have found a few upsetting things. My findings:

EXHIBIT A: This Barbie Wedding book.

ImageThe plot: Kristen asks Barbie and her sisters to be bridesmaids at her wedding. Barbie realizes this is going to be a lot of work.

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First, you have to choose the bride’s dress…..and then the bridesmaids’ dresses. Heaven forbid we have to wear ugly dresses – because it’s all about looking pretty, right?

ImageAnd of course you have to help choose the wedding band, but with a name like Glitter Girlz, how can you go wrong?

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Time to get ready for the big day! More getting pretty time. At least on this page we have the gay hair stylist demographic represented! And if you squint you can see the Asian and African American workers help make the young white girls pretty.

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Uh oh, band is stuck in traffic (worst excuse ever – the Glitter Girlz are meth heads and can’t even make it to their one wedding gig. Time for rehab!) Lucky for Kristen Barbie and her sisters can perform. The girl with the purple streaks in her hair knows how to spin.

ImageWedding is over, and from this pic we can tell just how important the groom is. Almost every page of this book is dedicated to the girls becoming beautiful decorations for one big party. Am I wrong in being offended by this book? Pretty anti-feminist, wouldn’t you say?

EXHIBIT B: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

The story of little boy with a rotten attitude.

So, Alexander is having some bad luck. Gum in his hair, no prize in his cereal, the shoe store is sold out of his new sneakers. And yes, Paul said he was only his third best friend. I admit not the makings of a wonderful day…

 Top 100 Picture Books #8: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst, illustrated by Ray CruzI know this one’s a classic, but most of the things Alexander is upset about are really just because of his poor attitude. He didn’t even try to color his picture in class and he called Australia on his dad’s office phone. And he pouts when he doesn’t get a window seat – maybe he just had the window seat yesterday! And crying over no dessert! Think of those starving children who don’t even have lunch. Is this what we want to be teaching the youth of America? Alexander, you need to buck up. Life is hard, time to man up.

EXHIBIT C: The Story of Babar

Possibly the worst offender. Let’s see what adventures Babar will take us on, shall we?

The Story of Babar, the Little Elephant - Vintage 1960Beginning of the book, Babar’s mother is shot – RIGHT IN FRONT OF HIM. And I am not lying when I say the very next illustration is of HER DEAD BODY! Say what? This is literally on page three of the book, as if Bambi hadn’t scarred us for life! So, now that Babar is an orphan, he runs away to the city. He seems to forget his mother immediately and he befriends an old woman on the street.

She gives Babar money to buy new clothes, let’s him move in with her, and gives him her car. Excuse me? Babar is now a kept man. What does the old woman want in return? Then, Babar’s cousins, Celeste and Arthur, find Babar in the city. First thing, Babar buys them new clothes (with his sugar mama’s money, no doubt). But soon, their mothers find them and they insist that Babar and the young elephants return to forest and live with the other elephants.

Meanwhile, the King of the Elephants eats some bad mushrooms and dies. DIES! One death wasn’t enough for this children’s book; we had to have two.

The elephants need a new king and Babar drives up at this very moment. Because everyone cheers for his return, they decide he is the logical choice for king (does he have any king experience? I think not). But wait, Babar is engaged to Celeste. You may have forgotten but Celeste is his cousin. Babar will not be king unless Celeste can be queen. Everyone agrees, they order some fancy new wedding clothes, and leave for their honeymoon in a hot air balloon. (Pretty irresponsible since he was just appointed king)

There is some major Hamlet-esque shit going down I’m Babar. Death, high class prostitution, political espionage, and marrying younger cousins. Shakespeare couldn’t have written it better himself. I ask, do kids enjoy this?

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3 responses

  1. We had a Babar book when you were little but the plot involved cooking and chefs and no one died! We also had a big basket of naked barbie dolls but no barbie books. Barbie is just slightly over 50 now, must say something….

  2. haha this is all amazing. Book 1 is just …NO. You’re so not right to be offended! Book 2 makes me laugh, he does have a ‘tude and Book 3 – WOW. I remember Babar but forgot all of the death and disaster. Yikes!

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