Children’s Books That Make Me Cringe

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{31 Days of Reading Well: Day 20}

I’m feeling a little bit snarky tonight, so I am going to tell you about some children’s books I don’t love. There are so many wonderful books for kids … but some of them are just off! Even books I loved as a child I now wonder what on earth my parents were thinking when they purchased these gems.

The Piggy in the Puddle was a favorite of mine – a Weekly Reader copy. (Anyone else remember Weekly Reader?) I seriously loved this book enough that I hung onto my copy (or, well, my parents did) until I had my own child to read it to. We read it about three times, enough for me to get upset that that stinking piggy in the bonnet is rude to her parents, disobedient, and uses words I don’t want my kids to use! It went to Goodwill. Sorry, pig.

I know this might be slightly controversial, but I kind of hate the book God Gave Us You. I have absolutely zero problems with the text of the book, really. My issue is the animals. THEY ARE POLAR BEARS THAT GO GET ULTRASOUNDS AT THE HOSPITAL. But they also hang out in the woods with fish and stuff. I am OK with animals that act like humans. Or animals that act like animals. But these hybrid polar bears freak me out. Sorry.

I’m really sorry if I’m breaking anyone’s heart, but I go to great lengths to AVOID reading The Little Engine That Could. It is a boring book with a whole lot of words, and it is deceptively long. Yes, it has a great moral lesson or whatever. But we can learn that “we can” from a better book. (Also, Mr. V noticed the other night that the book is also sexist: the evil trains are all “he” and the good ones are “she.”)

I don’t reeeeallly hate Fox in Socks … but I do think Dr. Seuss probably had a good laugh picturing parents trying to read all these tongue-twisters in a cheerful, good-night book voice. Now I know why we didn’t have this book when I was a kid. And why it was in Goodwill in the first place. That parent was wiser than I.

Which kids’ books do you secretly (or not-so-secretly) hate?

Since Jill has a sense of humor, I’m linking up these books I DON’T love to her Things I Love Thursday carnival.

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31 Days of Reading Well: Day 19

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The To-Be-Read List, via Pinterest

 

The more I read … the more I realize that Charlotte’s Web is the perfect book. Seriously. I think this would be super interesting to me!

 

When I was researching and talking about epistolary novels, this one kept coming up. I’ve heard it’s great, and I am feeling the need to read it.

 

I finished the first book of this two-book series last week, and it’s one where I really just want to jump in and read the second! The main character was charming, the story fun, and I like Walker’s writing. (I’ve read several of her others fiction books.) Sadly, neither our public library nor the school library has it, so I’m trying to determine how I should procure this one.

What’s at the top of your to-be-read list?

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Books to Start Conversations about Jesus and Faith with Your Young Kids

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{31 Days of Reading Well: Day 18}

It gripped me this year as school began that I only had three years left with Libbie truly under my wings; she will be almost 6 by the time she goes to kindergarten but still, it doesn’t seem long enough! We love reading together and I try to make a point of choosing some books that open spiritual conversations with her.

Here are seven that I love (including some series, so really, a lot more!) and three that I think I would love.

1. Gigi, God’s Little Princess series (and I would assume Will, God’s Mighty Warrior series as well) – I love the OH SO PINK illustrations in the Gigi books as well as the message. Mr. V tells Libbie every night now, “Good night, princess. Sweet dreams.” I just love Sheila Walsh’s sense of humor that makes these books readable for parents, too.

2. The Parable of the Lily by Liz Curtis Higgs – A recommendation from Amanda (as MANY of these have been!), this book is an Easter parable by prolific author Higgs (see my review of Mine Is the Night here).  A daughter is given a gift that she finds pretty worthless: a flower bulb in a crate of dirt. But she finds out maybe it was the most beautiful gift of all.

3. Miss Fannie’s Hat by Jan Karon – Yes, I linked to my post about this yesterday. It still needed to go here! More pink, more fun, great Bible verse to memorize, wonderful lesson about giving.

4. Just Like Jesus Said series by Melody Carlson – Melody Carlson is another author who writes for children, teens, and adults. This set of four books convey stories in rhyme and help teach basic Bible lessons: sharing, caring, giving.

5. My ABC Bible Verses by Susan Hunt – We haven’t been real methodical about this book yet, especially since the stories are longer with only one picture. Plus, the Bible verses are in KJV. But it teaches practical lessons and I like the idea of doing letter Bible verses! (And we’re going to do these alphabet Scripture cards from I Can Teach My Child, definitely!)

6. Jesus Storybook Bible – Sometimes I wish that EVERY Bible story were in this wonderful Bible. But otherwise, it’s pretty perfect. Every single story points to Jesus and His salvation of the world. Stories are usually three to four pages long, perfect for bedtime. And having Libbie come up to me and say, “Will you read me the Bible?” is just … perfect!

7. God Thinks You’re Wonderful by Max Lucado – Libbie has yet to sit through this entire book, but it’s a sweet concept and I am sure she will with a few more months. It’s so Lucado – the line about “if God had a refrigerator, He would hang your picture on it” just makes me smile!

I’m sure I will think of a zillion other books as soon as I hit publish, but that’s all I can think of for now … but here are three more I haven’t read but think would be great:

8. Humphrey’s First Christmas by Carol Heyer

9. What Is Easter? by Michelle Medlock Adams

10. Heaven, God’s Promise for Me by Anne Graham Lotz

What are your favorite Christ-centered books to read to your kids?

Linked up to Top Ten Tuesday at OhAmanda & Best of 31 Days.

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31 Days of Reading Well: Day 17

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Today I want to tell you about one of my favorite children’s books, Miss Fannie’s Hat. But … you’re going to have to go visit Impress Your Kids to hear about it

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31 Days of Reading Well: Day 16

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It thrills me to find new authors that I love. It’s so fun to discover a new-to-me author and start devouring his or her books. All the better if they already have many published.

I was in China for six weeks in 2002, after my sophomore year of college. I was in a study abroad program where we went to class for a half a day and then had the rest of the time for exploring. Sure, we had lots of activities to do, lots of area of Beijing to traverse. But we weren’t in the most central part of Beijing; we had to hire a cab to go anywhere and then try to give directions in Mandarin; and, honestly, it was thirteen trillion degrees outside and six thousand percent humidity.

I brought a few books with me (The Saving Graces, I remember, which I read at least twice during that time) but zoomed through them with the abundance of free time we seemed to have. So we made what seemed to be a pilgrimage to the English bookstore.

English books are expensive in China. The book I bought was probably the single most expensive thing I procured while in the country. And it was a copy of Tara Road by Maeve Binchy.

I didn’t know Maeve Binchy was Irish, or that she had written a lot of books. I didn’t know Tara Road was an Oprah book club pick. All I knew was that it was the longest book there that looked readable to me.

It still makes me laugh, a little, to think that I was trying to find a lengthy tome to occupy my time … in China. And that in a bookstore brim-full with American authors I managed to find a book written and set in Ireland. But I am so glad that I picked up that particular novel, because in it I found a new favorite author.

Tara Road is not my favorite of Binchy’s novels, by far. But it holds a dear place in my heart and I won’t be letting go of my China copy anytime soon.

[Want to hear more about my China adventure? You might like Why I Studied Chinese, Souvenirs, or Chinese Fairytale.]

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31 Days of Reading Well: Day 15

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To get inspiration for these posts, I’ve often scrolled through the list of books I’ve read (either here on this blog, or a more comprehensive list on Paperbackswap). One that popped out to me tonight was The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.  It’s an excellent book combining history, romance, a strong and clear female main character, and lovable minor characters.

(From now on it will be known as GLPPS, because the endearingly long title is a little much to write again and again.)

GLPPS is also an epistolary novel.

You might recognize the beginning of the word epistolary; Paul’s writings in the Bible are the epistles. The Latin word epistola means “letter, dispatch, written communication.” Set in 1946, GLPPS is written entirely in letters. The main character, a young writer and journalist, writes back and forth with her editor, friends, and the members of a literary society on Guernsey island.

It’s all fiction; and yet, somehow, the letters seem almost real, perhaps make the story that much more believable. It gives you the sense the narrator is not even there. It’s just you, the reader, and the characters, working through the story together. It’s intense. Reading a collection of letters in a book is so close to coming across your grandparents’ love letters in a box and becoming emerged in their story. It can be very real.

Epistolary novels are certainly nothing new, although now they may include texts, e-mails, or instant-message conversations. I can think of a wide range of books I’ve read using written communication, sporadically or throughout, from chicklit to Christian fiction to Libbie’s toddler books.

I’ll never forget hearing someone in my creative nonfiction class read an essay about Memoirs of a Geisha. It was something about being duped by the author because he sets it up that the book is based on a “series of interviews” with a real geisha. And it’s not. While Arthur Golden did do extensive research on Japanese culture and the lives of geishas, his book was not the story of a real geisha.

I had read the whole book under the impression that the main character had lived. I might have gone home and cried.

But I believe the author used the same idea behind an epistolary novel: he takes himself out of the picture as much as possible. It can be an extremely effective tactic.

I’m interested by the lists I’m finding of classic and modern epistolary novels; many I have heard of, but not read. They include The Screwtape Letters, Ella Minnow Pea, Dracula (which I have read), and Clarissa, the longest novel in the English language. That’s a lot of letters!

So, I find the technique of adding “real-life elements” to novels to be sometimes convincing, sometimes a little too deceptive and emotionally manipulative. What do you think? Do you have a favorite epistolary novel or one that uses letters, e-mails, or other written material?

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