I’ve worked in childcare for more than ten years, and as you can imagine, I’ve read my fair share of children’s books. This past year I even took a class through Ryerson University about the children’s book publishing industry, so I have a good idea of what goes into creating a successful storybook for kids.
Obviously, the thought process and work that goes into creating children’s books is drastically different than with other genres. Writers and publishers have to consider that parents are the ones who are actually reading these stories, and so, have to make them at least somewhat appealing for the older crowd. How then are sooooo many kids books sooooo annoying to read?
When you’ve read the same book to your child about 600 times, it gets pretty old. Some books are painful to read even after the first or second time. I know you’ve felt the same pain I have, admit it!
Here’s a list of the 10 children’s books that I (and other caregivers) hate the most.
1. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Brown Wise
This one is actually the most annoying books I have ever read. It’s like the Nickelback of books: I just keep wishing it was over already. Little kids often say goodnight to the items and belongings that they love, such as their stuffed animals or maybe even a picture on the wall. But have you ever heard of a child who says goodnight to a bowl of mush? What kid even eats “mush” anyway? Even the illustrations annoy me. They’re neither cute nor realistic. Why the heck is this considered a picture book classic?
2. Dora the Explorer: Where is Tico? by My Busy Books
All Dora the Explorer books are annoying. Dora, Dora, Dora. You have so many adventures and yet are so annoying. Some might say that you’re inspiring because you are so knowledgeable and brave. I say you’re unpredictable and can’t decide what you want out of life. One day you’re a princess with good manners, the next you’re an astronaut who needs to get home to bake a birthday cake, and then you’re a tourist in Russia but somehow you’ve misplaced your friend Tico. Seriously, kid. Make up your mind. And try better names for your friends/belongings. Who names their backpack “Backpack”?
3. Love You Forever by Robert Munsch
Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adore Robert Munsch. He is the He-Man of humor for kids! He makes reading children’s books so much more entertaining, and I thank him for it. However… this book is way too sad, and it’s more than a little creepy. Does anybody else think it’s weird that the mom has to climb a ladder and crawl through a window to get into her son’s house? Perhaps he could have given her a key? I read somewhere that Munsch wrote this after he and his wife suffered through two stillbirths. As if this story didn’t already break your heart, it sure will now that you know that.
4. The Real Mother Goose by Blanche Fisher Wright
The old lady who lived in the shoe actually beat her kids. The three blind mice had their tales viciously slashed off with a massive blade. Jack toppled down a hill and basically broke his head. Why would anyone want to read this to a poor, innocent child? I bet all the kids hear is “don’t go up any hills because you’ll kill yourself,” “blind animals are savagely amputated,” “parents of large families resort to violence on a regular basis.” And we all know what Ring-Around-The-Rosie is really about (*cough* the bubonic plague). This isn’t a book for small children; it’s a collection of horror poetry for barbarians.
5. Caillou Storybook Treasury by Chouette Publishing and illustrated by Eric Sévigny
Not just these ones, but every book about Caillou. Don’t even get me started. I’m quite sure every parent and caregiver (heck, every living adult) detests this horrible, whiney, selfish, demanding, horrible child. Did I mention that he’s horrible? He leaves his little sister ALONE in the grocery store, and DOESN’T get reprimanded. When told he should give some of his toys to his sister, he says he will only give ONE and nobody addresses this. He whines when the cat doesn’t stay where he expects it to. Seriously, shoot me now.
6. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault
You’d never know it by the title, or by the cover, but this is an alphabet book. I’ve no idea why the letters of the alphabet would be up in a coconut tree, but they are. Nor am I sure why the “chicka chicka boom boom,” which sounds like a type of modern dance move, is the cry of these letters who are seemingly stranded on a desert island. There are so many other, much better alphabet books than this: Dr. Seuss’s ABCs, Eating the Alphabet by Lois Ehlert, and Alphabet by Matthew Van Fleet are all gorgeous, entertaining, unique books that (luckily) make me forget all about this chicka chicka nonsense.
7. Junie B. Jones and her Big Fat Mouth by Barbara Park
First of all, the title is awful. It’s blatantly rude and gross! This is a common theme in all the Junie B. Jones books, actually. In this one, it takes less than five pages before Junie says “How’d you like a knuckle sandwich, you big fat Jim?” Sure Junie, teach your readers it’s okay to talk with your fists. Also, the grammar is appalling. Yes, certain terms, like “ ‘nouncement,” are cute and relatable for the kiddos, but I experience near-rage when she says things like “Mrs. did a frown on me.” This pretty much teaches our kids to be mouthy AND that it’s okay – funny, even – to use grammar that makes them sound more like they were raised by wolves than humans. These books should be banned. Yes! Banned!
8. That’s Not My Puppy by Fiona Watt
When I first read a book from this series, I thought it was adorable. I felt the same about the second and third, maybe even up to the fifth. After that, though, I was done. They’re all exactly the same, and they’re all annoying. Also, don’t you think it’s giving the unrealistic expectation that kids can own all kinds of different animals and objects that aren’t normally owned? What kid has their own badger? Their own meerkat? Their own airplane? Say what you will about the creative ways it teaches kids about texture, it also teaches them to be materialistic. And repetitive. Ugh, so repetitive.
9. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
I love Shel Silverstein. Well, I love Where the Sidewalk Ends and A Light in the Attic. Therefore, it hurts me to say that this book is awful. Truly, truly awful. The “boy” actually cut his so-called friend down. Like, killed it. What kind of horrible lesson does this teach kids? That you can either be a friend who gives and gives until someone kills you? Or that you can be selfish and take anything you need from your friends, even their lives? What the actual heck.
10. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
The title should really be “The Invertebrate Who Couldn’t Stop Gorging.” How this has become a classic, I’ll never know. It’s printed in 47 languages and apparently one book is purchased every 30 seconds. Which means that kids in more than 37 countries are learning that they can become a beautiful creature if they eat everything in sight. Unbelievable. How has a story about a gluttonous insect become such a must-have for kids and new parents? I’m particularly not a fan of the page that uses the word “fat.” It’s not a word that kids should be learning or throwing around, unless it’s describing a delicious burger. If your son or daughter tells you after dinner that you are a very fat caterpillar, who are you going to blame?
What kids books do you hate to read?
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