Why It's OK to Toss Your Kid's Favorite Book

What Women Really Think
Oct. 8 2009 2:55 PM

Why It's OK to Toss Your Kid's Favorite Book

Writer Daniel B. Smith says he's read The Very Hungry Caterpillar to his daughter 796 times , and I'm here to tell him to put the book down and step away. I'm the expert, and I hereby declare that if your kid's favorite book fills you with loathing and despair. then it's OK for that book to mysteriously disappear.

It's a dangerous life, being a children's book. All kinds of perils await. You could fall into the bathtub, say, or slip from a parent's hand above the recycling, or just topple down behind the bookcase amidst the dust bunnies and teeny tiny Lego pieces. Not that that's what happened to Goldilicious , or Snowmen at Christmas after its 40th reading this past July. Oh, no. And Snappy Little Springtime , with its predictably perky rhymes by committee and ripped and shredded pop-ups? I'm sure it's still on the bookshelf somewhere. You're just not looking hard enough.

Advertisement

Mr. Smith's wife rightly defends The Very Hungry Caterpillar and his daughter's attachment to it. Kids like repetition. They like regularity, and rhythm. Making the same delightful discoveries turning the pages of the same delightful book every single night for weeks and months and years on end fills our progeny with a sense of security and a conviction that all's right with the world. I said so myself, when I coauthored Reading with Babies, Toddlers and Twos with reading expert Susan Straub. So here I am, author, expert, and DoubleX' s resident authority on children's picture books, and I say: So what?

You've done the repetition thing. You've been held prisoner by Eric Carle, or Sandra Boynton, or Margaret Wise Brown for long enough. Change is also good. New experiences are good. Daddy's sanity is very good. Mr. Smith, if that book suffers a tragic fate, your daughter will grieve, and then move on. You can console her with The Pigeon Wants a Puppy , Bark, George! , or the madly illustrated classic fairy tales collected in Yummy! . We legions of fellow reading-aloud parents are behind you. You are not alone. Just don't tell your wife I said so.

What's the next book soon to sleep with the fishes in your house? Post your nominations (and their ultimate destination) on Xxtra Small's Facebook page.

TODAY IN SLATE

Foreigners

More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

iOS 8 Comes Out Today. Do Not Put It on Your iPhone 4S.

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows

The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything

It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.

Jurisprudence

Happy Constitution Day!

Too bad it’s almost certainly unconstitutional.

The Ungodly Horror of Having a Bug Crawl Into Your Ear and Scratch Away at Your Eardrum

My Father Was James Brown. I Watched Him Beat My Mother. Then I Married Someone Like Him.

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 17 2014 12:02 PM Here It Is: The Flimsiest Campaign Attack Ad of 2014, Which Won’t Stop Running
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
  Life
Outward
Sept. 17 2014 1:59 PM Ask a Homo: Secret Ally Codes 
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 17 2014 1:26 PM Hey CBS, Rihanna Is Exactly Who I Want to See on My TV Before NFL Games
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 17 2014 1:01 PM A Rare, Very Unusual Interview With Michael Jackson, Animated
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 12:35 PM IOS 8 Comes Out Today. Do Not Put It on Your iPhone 4S.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 17 2014 11:18 AM A Bridge Across the Sky
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.