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Bad Parents' Reading List.

Under the department of, "What were they thinking when they wrote this, and why didn't these characters lose their children or get arrested?" I'd like to chat about some odd stories. Feel free to add your own analysis or additional titles in the comments.

1. Green Eggs and Ham. Is it just me, or is Sam-I-Am harassing this poor unnamed chap? And does the dude get Stockholm Syndrome at the end or what? Although he was quite sure at the beginning of the book that he wouldn't like green eggs and ham in any location you could name, he suddenly LOVES them and thanks his stalker dude for going to all this trouble. It is out of control. Stockholm, I'm telling you. The Sam-I-Am guy runs over people with cars and presents mice and goats to him as suitable tablemates. Fer real.

2. The Clifford series. They let their grossly oversized dog roam all over the neighbourhood, causing havoc. Why is the dog-catcher or the National Guard not doing something about this dangerous animal? Just its poop alone is enough to cause a neighbourhood nuisance, nevermind what would happen if the animal got overzealous and rolled over onto someone. This is not a normal family, folks. This is some sick animal husbandry sponsored by Monsanto or something. I dunno.

3. No list would be complete without the Cat in the Hat series. WHY is Mother out and what is up with the strange guy in the outlandish hat? Every time I read this, I keep thinking the Mother should NOT be leaving her children alone and where is CPS at a time like this?

I suppose from a Freudian perspective, Mother is the absentee parent who only vaguely figures into the story (as in, "What would Mother say?"). It is also notable that the father's conspicuously absent, although he has $10 shoes just lying around in the closet. $10 was a lot of money back in the days this was written, but somehow? They couldn't afford a babysitter.

The fish. The fish is the superego, right??

Apparently, though - thanks, google - there are a whole series of lessons on how The Cat in the Hat incorporates the themes of id, ego and superego. Really. I got something like 10 pages of search results. Maybe the fish really is the superego.)

4. There are probably about 50 others. The plotline of We're Going on a Bear Hunt book Rose brought home from the children's library at the preschool demonstrates extremely poor parental judgment throughout. Just imagine taking an infant and a toddler on a bear hunt with no rifle, and traipsing through the river, the mud and the snow without appropriate protective gear. The incompetence is astounding.

But anyway, there are probably a good 50 more books out there with wackadoodle parenting. I don't get why many of the truly funny and cute books for little children seem to be so... emm - twisted? - when you think about them. I'm sure there is some psychoanalytic website that covers the "howcome," but I guess I didn't type in the right search words.


  1. Pretty weird stuff, that Dr. Seuss! I like those books as a kid. My kids like them, too, but as an adult they drive me crazy. I can't stand reading them to my kids, and cringe every time they choose one of those off the shelf - especially Cat in the Hat!

    My brother banned Dr. Seuss from his house when his kids were little - "too weird", he said. I suspect that he just didn't want to have to read them aloud!

  2. They drive me nuts, too!! The Grinch book is cute, but Cat in the Hat keeps getting hidden somehow.

  3. My least favorite children's books that are not even allowed in my house are the Berenstain Bears. The children are know-it-all, the mother encourages it, and the dad is just an a**. (I remembered your no-cussing rule.) Seriously. He can't do anything right and his wife and children just correct him and make him feel stupid by the end of every story.

    I can handle handle random craziness from Dr. Seuss. I can't handle man-bashing books for children.

  4. Hello, Daja! Actually, you can cuss away, but the "rule" is in place because I'm tired of people (trolls, really) cussing mean and nasty things. I mean, "OH, F" is one thing, but "You are an F this and that" is quite another.

    You would be surprised at what winds up at the mercy of my delete button, friend.

    The Berenstain Bears book I really liked at first was about going to the store and pitching a fit. I don't like how they solved the problem by buying stuff at the end of each shopping trip if the child is good. I mean, who can afford to do that? Especially with more than Brother and Sister Bear to raise in our families, right? Though I would be happy to give a sticker or a star TOWARD a later reward. We just can't be handing out dollars all over the place like Mr. Moneybucks. :)

  5. What about books for slightly older children? Do you remember Enid Blyton's Famous Five or Secret Seven series? Those kids would hang out all day away from home having all kinds of adventures often involving burglars, smugglers, being caught by the tide and stranded on the island, these adventures often involved police and much danger. Not a parent in sight. They even provided their own food!

  6. It's all about the rhymes with Dr. Seuss.

    Books for very young children focus more on engaging characters and rhyming at the expense of all else.

    A set of books I like are the Frances books by Russell Hoban.

  7. River and Terry, I have never heard of either series!! And yeah, I know it's all about rhyme with Dr. Seuss, but what a plotline!

  8. Maybe these books are a good thing... They prepare children for watching sitcoms... :-/

  9. Ha ha. I loved that! I do agree with one of your commenters about the Berenstein Bears. I don't have them in our house even though I think they are the cutest books. I hate how they make the dad look so dumb.

  10. I can still to this day remember the fear I had when I saw The Cat In the Hat at school the day before winter recess. I was in kindergarten and it scared me to the point of nightmares. A crazy and pushy cat coming into the house when no parent was around? The fear of thinking both parents would leave kids alone had me going. I cried until they let me go lay down so I didn't have to watch anymore. lol

    And sadly, so many childrens stories have the themes of the children having to out think the parents, or the parents aren't included at all.

  11. Virginia: The dad is often dopey and so is the brother and his friends, sometimes. I don't know that these aren't HILARIOUS books, at least at the beginning. Then they get all moral-y on ya and the fun is gone.

    Blondee, WHY were they even bothering with a movie? Bleh, waste of taxpayer money.


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