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Thursday, March 27th, 2008...4:38 pm

#15: Children’s Books



For the Best Parent, children’s books are the high-yield Vanguard mutual fund of the mind. The more you can invest in your child’s intellectual portfolio, the greater the returns will be. Thus, the Best Parent Ever believes their child can never have enough books, regardless of whether their children are actually able to read them or are merely using them as cardboard teething rings with type. There are not enough Pottery Barn bookcases in the world to hold all the picture books the Best Parent would like to buy as they turn their children’s bedrooms into toddler versions of the Royal Library of Alexandria, but with pop-up books and Touch and Feel tomes.

Why so many picture books? It is because the Best Parent believes their progeny will forgo plush playthings and plastic noise-making toys in order to bury their heads in the Lift and Look works of Softplay like Talmudic scholars unlocking the secrets of the universe. The knowledge they gain from Olivia the pig or Good Dog Carl will undoubtedly prepare them for a life of looking down scornfully at their non-best compatriots who had only the backs of cereal boxes to read while growing up.

Best Parents often scorn TV and comic books. But bind these same characters in a hard cover, and they’ll collect them with the same enthusiasm reserved for frequent flyer miles and Iphones. This is because these simple picture books and board books provide a DaVinci-Code-style roadmap to the secrets of Best Parent culture (if you haven’t noticed this yet, you’re just not Best Parent enough). After all, how many non-white characters do you really see in children’s books? Even Curious George ditched his African roots for some old white man in a yellow suit. In Where the Wild Things Are, does Maurice Sendak take us on a fantastic voyage to South Central L.A.? I don’t think so. And Where’s Waldo? Not in Detroit, that’s for sure.

True, The Cat in the Hat rhymes like a rapper, but he’s no MC Hammer or Fresh Prince. (Sorry. These are the best rap references for the Best Parent to recognize.) Children’s books have one simple goal — and it’s not teaching reading. It’s teaching young best saplings how to be the towering oaks of the future Best Parent community. Those are white oaks, by the way.

So take that, non-best parents waiting in line to see Horton Hears a Who. The Best Parent’s child has already read the book. And it was so much better than the movie, as it always is.

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  • There are many writers from different cultures that are read in preschools today. This post is rubbish and whoever believes that children are only reading books so they could become “towering oaks of their community” is absurd! We shower our kids with books so they’ll have an appreciation for the world, and respect for all cultures, people, and creatures.

    I taught preschool for 11 years in Manhattan and Brooklyn. We read African, Mexican, Swedish, Chinese, Arabic, (to mention a few) books to our students. The staff was as diverse as the music and literature we enjoyed in the classroom.

    You must live under a rock to think todays kids are being exposed to “white only” books. Either that or buy some other books, and find a decent school for your kids. You clearly don’t live in NYC.

    BTW, where are you located?

  • dude. it’s called irony. Maybe you should go back to high school English and read some of those books. I’m just sayin.

  • High school was a ridiculous time in my day. My teachers were either drunk, asleep, perverts, or just plain couldn’t give a s***. Sometimes they were all four attributes I mentioned. Anyway, I graduated from high school nearly 25 yrs. ago. Sure, I read the classics, some good, some horrid. I was so bored I could hardly sit still in the classroom. I’m just saying that now, as an educator there is more to offer children.

    My husband teaches a mixed 2nd &3rd grade in NYC and they’re studying the Iroquios. There’s a wigwam in his classroom as I write. They’re learning how to play lacrosse which the Native Americans invented.

    When I taught 3 and 4 year olds we learned about China. We had them make goods for a flea market that included cages for crickets, (good luck in China), calligraphy, portrait painting, excellent stir fry, and on and on. We did Black History all year. Parents came in on Roshashana and fried latkes in the classroom. We made African masks, sang dirges, danced to Haitian drums.

    I understand irony, but this is not ironic as I see it. My kids lives among hundreds of cultures, languages, and culinary delights. The places I worked were filled with people from all over the world who were well traveled to boot.

    I don’t know, maybe I’m still an idealist at heart and believe that one person could make a difference. As a parent you’re your child’s first teacher. Don’t teach them fear, bigotry, and bias. Next thing you know in 20 years there will be as much chaos in the world as we have now. I want a change for my child. I want her to be better than her parents. Read more books, and open her mind up as wide as possible.

  • this is about white parents, uppity white parents tamblu calmate. :)

  • I must be an uppity white parent b/c my kids have alot of books. Acutaly I have a 2 year old and a one year old and the only way I can slow them down sometimes, and keep some sanity, is to sit them both down and read them a book. My 2 year old gets book read to here daily and now is looking at them by herseld trying to tell the story and will be reading before school. I laughed during this post and it is clever, however we don’t have any potterbarn bookselves, company store is at least half the price.

  • what’s calmate?

  • This is a great way to point out our differences and promote dislike between parents of different backgrounds.

    Promoting the idea that only uppity white people read and poor black people shouldn’t read because it’s not cool is the reason why I can’t carry on a conversation with anyone I work with under 20 years old.

    Saying “lemme Ax you something” tells me that I can’t trust you with a simple task and you will never be considered for a promotion based on your skills.

  • My sister in law bought her newborn an encyclopedia.

  • Somebody’s reading WAY too much into kids’ books.

    2 of 15.

  • feckineejit, I think it’s spelled “skillz”.

  • I think the real purpose of buying children’s books for your kids is to buy them for yourself, because they are often awesome. Harry Potter much?

  • danielmybrother
    April 17th, 2008 at 5:06 am

    but he’s no MC Hammer or Fresh Prince. (Sorry. These are the best rap references for the white parent to recognize.)…we read TUPAC to our kids, w/o the foul language the dude is a poet.

    Seriously, Jose Ole, you read to your kids because it makes YOU smarter and calms you down. Reading to them, CORRECTLY, not like some dumb low IQ reprobate who cant read or write, does model proper reading skills and language skills, and when they read they gain confidence to whup the other white kids into submission in class at the private school we know they all attend. Also, reading calms the ADHD chemicals by vocal vibrations, because we all know all white kids have that dreaded disease, so of course ritalin and not the belt is being prescribed.

    Too negative, in the words of Bill Cosby the best White guy I know, he says kids are fat now because we dont beat them enough, causing them to run, which looses weight. Even mentioning brown parents making Pinatas out of stainless steel to strenghen their arms. Good stuff.

  • Why do so many of these commenters have no sense of humor? This blog is epic win, anyone who is giving a serious, sober criticism of this blog is either too stupid to get the joke, or is a humorless tightwad who needs to have a good “dress rehersal for reproduction” if you catch my drift.

    They probably wouldn’t understand that reference I just gave, either.

  • Heh. I was one of those ‘Best Parents’ Kids’ who was basically inundated with books. But to be honest, my parents read a few books to me, and took me to the library. I’m the one who insisted (as I got older) to check out a dozen books from the library at a time and to practically live in the bookstore. By the time I was 10, I had piles of books two feet high in my room. I literally had no floor space because of the books. Of course, that was me expressing my joy and love for reading, and probably a little impulsiveness and disregard for money. However, my parents didn’t have to buy the books, but they did anyways. (And by the time I hit 11, the Best Parents were Divorced Formerly-Best Parents)

    Growing up, there was hardly any diversity in books for me. That’s probably why I now read the weird stuff. Anyways, I love that now everything is more diversified and that diversity is celebrated and emphasized as a good thing. I would have loved to be in tamblu’s and her husband’s classes though.

    I actually think reading is a good thing, and it SHOULD be emphasized. My brother (who is 11, by the way) does not like to read. He will read, but not very often, and he does not understand what he is reading anyways. Not to mention the condition the books are in when he’s done with them (it makes me want to cry). He’d rather rot his brains out in front of the television. Now, my brother DOES have ADHD, but not even listening to someone read out loud (or reading out loud himself) ‘calms him down.’ The only time that child is calm is when he is rotting his brains out.

    That being said, I would love to see a rapping Cat in the Hat. It would probably make my day (and the bling would only make it that much more hilarious).

  • I AM a Best Parent EVAH… My kids have not one, but TWO PotteryBarn bookcases!!

  • Don’t act like an uppity white parent. Instead of children’s books, buy your baby grills and a crack pipe. Make sure the closest you ever come to saying something polysyllabic in front of them is when you string curse words together. Don’t ever teach them anything that could help make them a productive member of society. Be sure they know that reading is stupid. Then you won’t have to worry about them ever trying to teach their children to read.

  • Hmm…funny post, but I was inundated with books as a child.
    My mom, definitely not white (Mexicana! :D), would read to me since I was a baby . Most of the times, I’d make her read me the same story over and over again.
    Overall, I’m very grateful that she did read to me, since I am going to major in English and eventually finish with a Masters in English, hopefully a Ph.D so I could teach at university level.

  • What Black books? Blacks haven’t written a damn thing. At least not in their language because they don’t have one and the whole of Africa is illiterate