Thursday, September 11, 2008

Children's Books

I have been teaching for a long time now. You know, when your dear hubby says "You're probably one of the 'old' ones," Yeah. He's right. He means it in a loving way.

So, I've not only noticed a downward trend in children's and parents' behavior, I have noticed a downward trend in the quality of children's books. Children's Literature was one of my favorite subjects in college, I actually aspired to be a children's book author at one point. Don't tell.

Here are some examples of books. Each entry is from one random page in the book. The first is from my favorite book, Miss Rumphius.

From the porch of her new house, Miss Rumphius watched the sun come up; she watched it cross the heavens and sparkle on the water; and she saw it set in glory in the evening. She started a little garden among the rocks that surrounded her house, and she planted a few flower seeds in the stony ground. Miss Rumphius was almost perfectly happy. "But there is still one more things I have to do," she said. "I have to do something to make the world more beautiful." But what? "The world already is pretty nice," she thought, looking out over the ocean.

Miss Rumphius was published in 1982. The pictures are beautiful.

Here's another one:

"Tangerine!" Gabby shrieks. Grandpa nods. "Tangerine, tangerine. All she talked about was tangerine!" "Well, did you make her one? Did you, Grandpa?" "Finally, I did." "I bet it was pretty, too, almost as pretty as my purple coat could be." Suddenly Grandpa clicks two fingers in the air. "I have an idea, " he begins. "Of course, one needs an exceptional tailor...." "You're an exceptional tailor." Grandpa stands a little taller. "This year I will make you something very special," he announces, "a coat that is navy blue on one side-and purple on the other. Reversible!" Gabby jumps high in the air. When she lands, her socks are scrunched around her ankles. "Let's make the purple side first."

That was from The Purple Coat, published in 1986. Another fav with great pictures. These two books have great meaning to the story and rich vocabulary like exceptional, heavens, reversible, announces, tailor. They are kind of long books, very descriptive. Kids used to be able to sit through them and listen quietly. Not any more. A lot of redirecting and skipping of details happens now. Here are a couple more:

After a while, the grass began to grow, the flowers began to bloom, and the birds began to have a party in the sky. Spring had come and, somehow, Charlie knew it was time to wake up.

From Charlie the Caterpillar, published in 1990. Sounds like it's going to be a good story, but somehow to me smacks of only being nice to those that were nice to you.

Here's another:

"Not me!" said Froggie. "Yes, you," said Rabbit. "Come on, I'll read you a story and then you must go to sleep." "Don't want to go to sleep," Froggie grumbled. But he did want to hear Rabbit's story.

From What a Party!, published in 2007. Froggie doesn't even use proper grammar. Kind of like Baby Bop, remember? Drove me crazy! So, judge for yourself. I understand that some books are meant to be easier to read, etc. But I used to be able to spend $30 easy at the Book Fair. We're having ours at school this week. I didn't find one book that was worth buying. Sad.


One Scrappy Gal said...

I have noticed lately with things like Scholastic, that there are less quality classic literature and more character based crap. It's a sad day when there's no Velveteen Rabbit but 10 different Spongebob and Dora books.

Jess said...

I agree. That's why you need to shop at Thrift stores for books!! It's the best! :)

Anonymous said...

I'm always on the hunt for great children's books and have recently discovered Bayard and their series of StoryBoxBooks, AdventureBoxBooks and DiscoveryBoxBooks. There's lots going on too:
This Month Storybox has guest illustrator Helen Oxenbury fetured.
There's a Readathon happening in the Ireland region -
There's a Ghost Drawing competition in AdventureBoxBooks assiciated with the Polka Theatre (