It's amazing what doesn't occur to you until you're a parent. And what occurs to one family but not another. And then I'm left sort of in the middle trying to figure out what's right for our family.
I've been going to the library every few weeks to get books for Ladybug. Those first few months I felt like I memorized the few books we had, and I knew the repetition would kick in when Ladybug got old enough to pick her own night night books. So, I tend to just pick a small section, the "N's" for example, and get most of my books for the week from there. And then I pick up a few that are familiar, like Go Dog Go or Curious George.
This means I get a wide variety of books. Some of them are simply stupid. Some are boring. Some have awesome illustrations and a great plot. Some of good stories with good morals. Some... nneh.
I brought home some Bernstein Bears books one day. The Mechanic mentioned that he wasn't allowed to read those growing up because they portrayed the dad as a bumbling idiot. I'd never thought about it... but the beginning reader books do. The more advanced books don't seem to do that as much, but The Bike Lesson and The Picnic, for example, two I well remember from my childhood, do show a very dumb father whose son has to continually get him out of scrapes. At this early age I don't figure it matters all that much (and some would disagree with me I'm sure), but when Ladybug gets a little older and understands spoken words, is that something I really want her reading?
So now I find myself evaluating every book I pick up. I brought home Purplicious last week. And I thought, oh it'd be cute to have Pinkalicious for Ladybug and Purplicious for ... well, the Lump doesn't seem quite applicable now. I'll have to come up with another nickname for the next daughter. But when I was adding books to their Amazon list, I noticed the Goldilicious book in the same series. And it says something about defending against the evil magic of her little brother. And I raised my eyebrows... that doesn't sound like something I want my daughters reading. I have nothing against magic in children's stories, but evil magic performed by their brother? Hm. And even Purplicious... (I've not read the original Pinkalicious book) I sort of wondered if I want them reading and quoting it. It has the other girls telling her liking pink is for babies, pink is out and black is in... and I couldn't help but think, I'm going to hear this kind of talk from my girls soon enough. I hate the whole "in" and "out" slang anyway, and while it shows you can make friends even if what you like isn't popular... I kind of wonder if I want my girls exposed to the idea of "popular" at such a young age.
So many books also portray siblings in a negative light. Oh, they eventually show them liking their younger sibling, but they always start out with "Sister was not happy about the new baby, Honey." Or something along those lines. I wish I could find a book that talks about how great sisters are. How much fun you can have with them. What good friends they can be. Something that emphasizes the positive. Because I figure they'll come up with negative stuff in their lives on their own... if they haven't already thought of "I don't like this" why do I want to put the idea in their head?
Who knew simple children's stories could be so complicated!!!