I think anyone who has been reading this blog for a little while knows that I love to read. I also love to read to our children. I started my children's book collection well before we were even trying to conceive. While I had the "excuse" of being able to use the books I purchased in my teaching, it was a personal collection, and not a class collection I was creating. The collection now numbers well into the hundreds and contains favourites, both old and new. Admittedly, it also contains some duds.
The Bean loves to be read to. Jen (who was home on maternity leave during his first year) was amazing at making reading to him a priority from his earliest days. Our bedtime routine includes three stories before songs and being tucked in. Now that he's getting older, we're moving away from the board books that we pretty much stuck to his first few years, and starting to reading some longer stories. Books we haven't looked at for a while are making their way off the shelf and into the basked beside the rocking chair.
Just the other day Jen pulled Robert Munsch's We Share Everything out. Robert Munsch is a much loved children's writer. He's American, but began writing after moving to Canada and though widely known in Canada, doesn't seem to be recognized across the border. I grew up on his early books, which is likely why We Share Everything, one of his newer books, is in our collection.
On the surface it is a funny story about two friends going into kindergarten who have to learn to share. However, reading it a couple dozen times over the last week has also made me realize there are things I really don't like about it. The two main characters are mean to each other. Bullies even. I don't want The Bean to grow up thinking that treating someone the way these characters treat each other is acceptable. They threaten. They yell. They knock down block towers. When they finally begin sharing, they share their clothes. After swapping outfits Jeremiah comments, "My mom never gets me pink shoes" and "No other boy in kindergarten has a pink shirt." Perhaps worse is when the teacher makes a big deal over Jeremiah's pink clothes. The Bean doesn't seem to think pink is a "girl's colour", and I agree. Messages like the ones in this book only bring the issue of society's ideas of what is acceptable for girls vs. boys to the forefront. I know there might be a day when The Bean wants to throw his pink marker in the garbage, but I would like to delay it as long as possible. If I can avoid him hearing this kind of messaging, I will.
So now I have to try to go hide this book. Good thing we've got others to distract him with.
What are your kids' favourite books? What do you do when you have issues with the subtext in the books you have?