There is so much of children’s entertainment that tries to appeal to the whole family by including some adult humor. Unfortunately, most of that humor boils down to sexual innuendo – and not very clever innuendo at that. OK, there’s some potty humor too. And y’know – even when the kids don’t “get it,” they still know that something is off.
To be clear, I appreciate some humor beyond what a three-year-old can grasp, but why is there only one rut in which those jokes run? In addition to being offensive to me, most of that stuff is just stupid. (One day I’m going to write a rant about laugh tracks and how insipid sitcoms are that they have to include canned laughter to convince the viewing audience that the show being watched is funny when it is not but people laugh anyway because they are sheep, in a bad way, and don’t want to go against the tape recorded mob. Look at that: rant accomplished.)
I’ve written about our family’s appreciation for Winnie-the-Pooh before. I can read those stories over and over and rarely get tired of them. There is so much in these stories that is well above the comprehension of most children: “inside jokes” about the funny nature of children, and spelling, and wistful remembrances of childhood days. It pokes fun at the self-absorption of children without trampling their tender hearts and while valuing them greatly. And the artwork is beautiful. I began reading these stories to Jack long before he could value much beyond the sound of Mommy’s voice. Now they are old favorites and he can tell most of the stories to ME. I know he understands them because he rephrases in his own words. I love that these are stories he can grow into.
That’s another thing: I don’t know how far above a child’s comprehension the experts would recommend reading aloud, but if something appeals to one of us, we just go for it and I edit, censor, or explain as necessary as we go along. (Actually, I try to keep explaining to a minimum because I don’t want to pollute the text with my own thoughts. I usually just explain when Jack asks a question. Sometimes I mention a synonym for a difficult word.) We’ve read the d’Aulaire biographies of Abraham Lincoln and Leif Erikson. We are currently reading some of The Jungle Book. He seems to be getting some of it. Maybe in a couple of years these stories will be old favorites too.
We also read Thomas the Tank Engine stories, but they require careful selection and editing as I have found some rough language and questionable content in those. I’m thinking of taking a look at The Railway Series by the Reverend W. Awdry to see if I like them better.
Jack also sidles up when I read to my ten-month-old, Harry. (Likewise, Harry hears, as he plays, the stories I read to Jack.) I plop H in my lap with a toy or something to help keep the wiggles under control, and read to him. The requirements are that it be a book that is easy to hold in one hand, not be longer than five minutes, and not be annoying to Mama. Big Red Barn, Goodnight Moon, Barnyard Dance!, and a baby Bible storybook are in rotation at the moment.
My husband likes to read Dr. Seuss to the kids. Those things can be tongue twisters! We also have begun a pretty good collection of classic short stories. McCloskey, Burton, Flack, et al. Lately, I love to go to my library and buzz through the Caldecott Award winners. Sadly, my library does not have a vast selection of those. (And can someone please explain how a children’s section is supposed to be laid out. There has got to be a method to that madness.)
Reading to and beginning to educate my children has opened up my mind to so many good things. I never read most of these books as a kid. I knew Disney interpretations and didn’t like them even as a child. Poor me. But books are great! I am learning so much and sharing these experiences with my children are some of the best parts of my days. Another nice thing is that my skill at keeping to a schedule is not where I’d like it to be yet, but if we read books together, I know we’ve done something good. We can stop, drop and read any time.
With Scripture memory, books, Mega Blocks, homemade play dough, glitter glue, finger paints, musical instruments, train tracks, counting grapes and M&Ms, baking, chatting with our mailman, Mr. Dave, running around the yard or the dining table depending on the weather, we have preschool covered. 😉