The Star, A Book and A Monkey…not necessarily in that order

Monkey has been a part of our family for two years now.  He was adopted on Landon’s first brithday and it was love at first sight…or bite – whatever.

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Since that time, Monkey (sometimes referred to as Steve) has been a mere extension of Landon’s skinny little arm.  Two peas in a pod, they are.  Napping together, playing together, living together.  Yes.  They are the best of friends.  Bosom buddies! 

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Recently, Monkey (Steve) had a bit of a medical crisis.  His leg began separating itself from his body.  It was touch and go there for awhile.  We didn’t know if he would make it.  The unfortunate snag stretched from mid-knee to the under arm.  We prayed, we said our goodbyes, we prepared Landon for the worst.  But he refused to give up hope.  He believed in Monkey and so the rest of us did as well.

But just to be safe, we adopted a knew Monkey.  Larry.  Just kidding.  The new Monkey doesn’t have a name. The new Monkey looks exactly the same.  Except, of course, for the fact that he doesn’t smell like spit and pee.  And his leg is fully attached.  And his color is even throughout.

Landon took one look and with utter disdain tossed new Monkey aside.  Like a red headed step child.  Unwanted, unloved, unreturnable because I lost the receipt…

We decided to give Monkey (Steve) one last chance at life.  Thanks to the skillful hands of his surgeon (Grandma Bebe) Monkey pulled through.  In fact, he’s as good as new.  You know, besides the fact that he smells like spit and pee, his leg fluff is distorted and thin and his coloring is extremely faded.  It doesn’t matter to Landon, though.  He loves Monkey (Steve) unconditionally.

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Switching gears – abruptly.

Sloan is in public school.  This is not a decision we took lightly and we spent a lot of time discussing this choice.  And we are, for the most part, very happy with the choice we made.  It’s right for our family right now.

However…

It does require quite a bit of vigilance.  I knew this going in so I try not to let myself get overly exasperated when I feel…well, exasperated with the public school.  Since Sloan began reading, and reading quite well, I’ve found myself more and more annoyed at the books he brings home from the library.  In fact, I can’t think of a single one I’ve been happy with in several months.

It started with the book about Werewolves he checked out around Halloween.  Nice.

Let’s begin by discussing The Diary of a Wimpy Kid.  I get it, these books are popular and in general, I don’t think they’re bad.  BUT.  My kid is seven.  Does he really need to be reading about the nuances of middle school?  And the material in and of itself is just so silly and trivial.  Why are we dumbing down books for our youngest readers?  I don’t get it.  What happened to writing books that were filled with adventure and imagination instead of potty words and stick figures?

Lee and I did read through the Wimpy Kid books and ultimately decided Sloan could check them out, but we are talking through them with him, discussing issues such as the boys trying to hide things from their parents and how that’s not something that we agree with.  It’s lead to teachable moments, but I still find it annoying to have to deal with such nonsense.

THEN *deep breaths* he brought home this gem.  A book he will promptly be returning to the library with firm instructions not to ever bring home again.  We made it clear that he wasn’t in trouble and that it wasn’t his fault, but that some books just aren’t worth the time.  And a book about a giant piece of p00p that punches people?!  Definately not worth the time.

There’s no easy way to put this: THIS BOOK IS STUPID.  It’s stupid and I don’t even understand why a school library would stock it on their shelves.  Most of the words aren’t even spelled right (Laffs for Laughs, Akshuns for Actions).  Seriously?!  Am I the only person who finds this somewhat appalling that an early reader would be allowed to take home such nonsense?

Then there’s the small little “subliminal message” they hid on Page 76: “Think for yourself.  Question Authority.  Read banned books!  Kids have the same constitutional rights as grown-ups!!!”

Oh sure it’s all tongue in cheek, but here’s the thing…IT’S NOT FUNNY NOR IS IT CUTE.

Let’s just say I’m talking myself off a cliff right now.

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Switching gears – let’s get happy again.

I had two separate conversations last week that brought a smile to my face and laughter to my heart.  The first went like this:

“I need to reschedule our meeting for tomorrow.  My daughter’s preschool is doing a live Nativity play and she is the star.”

“Oh really?  Your daughter is going to be baby Jesus?”

The second conversation went like this:

“Tia was the Star in her Nativity play last week.”

“Oh really?  Tia was Mary?”

Nope.

She was The Star.  Literally.

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She was The Star and yes.  She was the star!

Peace Out.

Comments

  1. I was just discussing the book dillema with a friend the other day. Not with our school’s library, but just in general going to the main library, how to know what to let Parker check out. I can’t read every book he decides looks cool to read, most are chapter books. some are obvious “no’s” like the werewolfe halloween book 🙂 But the ones with those subliminal messages and glorifying aweful things, to even the sassiness of Junie B Jones. Anyhoo, we all just need to spread the word about the great books that our kids are reading and help each other out.

  2. Ugh! I am taking tips from you lady! Coop will be in public school too. It’s annoying to think of what he might come home with. I recently picked up a list of award winning books from our local library. We’ve been working our way through them and so far I have really liked most of them. Maybe you could sit down with Sloan and have him research some books he wants to read that you are good with? You could send him to school with his list and have him hunt for the next book. There could even be a reward when he finishes the list. It would challenge him and give him a sort of quest!

    Cutest star and Monkey Steve BTW.

  3. Pam Krosley says:

    Kelli- I’m right there with you. In the last 16 years of having readers in the house and doing homeschool, private school and mostly public school we have seen it all. There have definitely been times we have told the kids to take that book back. I’ve talked to teachers and told them that my child won’t be reading that book, can you suggest an alternative. We have also let them read books we absolutely disagreed with then we would ask questions like “What did you think about this?” “What did you agree/disagree with?” “What do you think the author’s worldview is? What do you think he believes about God, people etc.?” It’s a minefield but I think it teaches them critical thinking and discernment. But, honestly, a book that doesn’t even spell the words correctly? Stupid!

  4. I KNOW?! I mean, really. The potty language and stuff is silly, but whatever…But a book that is just plain stupid? I’m not on board.

    Tiffany, I LOVE your suggestion! I never even thought of that! I think I have my Christmas project. Is the list of award winning books you’re reading kids or adult? I wonder if I could find out what kids books are out there that are good and appropriate for a first grader.

    Suggestions welcome!

    I think I need to talk with the teacher and the librarian as well. Ugh…I hate doing that. 🙂

    I did buy him a couple of the Magic Treehouse books for Christmas, which I’ve heard are great. Any other good books I should pick up?

  5. Katie Sillman says:

    I would just like to comment as a Library Media Specialist in a Public Elementary School 🙂 I do not have “Super Diaper Baby” Books in my libraries, but I do have several graphic novel type books. The reason I do purchase these is for the children that haven’t had the wonderful experience of having parents who have read to them from the time they were born. Unfortunately, there are children out there that do not choose any other types of books. For me as a LMS, it is near impossible to read every book before and after purchasing it. A lot of times, I rely on book reviews, and publishers recommendations. Also, I have 500+ students, classes of 30+ kids, no para, and I am expected to check out to those students in 20 minutes, once every four days. Because of this it is impossible to know how each students’ parents are going to feel about a particular book. I try my best to guide them in the right direction, but there are a few that slip by me. And I won’t even get into what happens when there is a sub 🙂 I always appreciate book suggestions from parents, as I’m sure your librarian would as well. You might even have access to your school library collection from home, then you guys could find books together.

  6. Stefanie A. says:

    I love these pics!!! TIa is the cutest star ever and those pics of Landon and the monkey are priceless!!

    P.S.- I was in an accelerated reading class in the fourth grade in public school in VA and was required to read a book that had curse words in it and gave me nightmares! My parents did speak to the teacher and eventually we moved to NC and went to private school. It took my mom a little while to figure out what was upsetting me so badly and she finally pulled the book from my book bag and read the whole thing and then she understood why. I am 29 now and have never forgotten that so you can never be too careful! (= Love you guys!

  7. Katie – thanks for your insight and suggestions (here and on Facebook – 🙂 ). While I understand the reasoning behind writing comic style books for kids who have a hard time reading, I don’t agree that we have to dumb the material down for these kids. Books could still be written well and have a lot of pictures. But books like Captain Underpants, Super Diaper Baby and even Wimpy Kid are so void of imagination and that’s more where my concern lies.

    As far as not being able to read through every book, I totally get that! I can’t imagine how you could know the material contained in every single book. But this book has mispelled words right on the cover so I’m a little disappointed in whoever stocks our school’s shelves for allowing this one through. I just think that if nothing else we should at least be teaching our young readers how to read correctly spelled words. How are we to ever help them learn to really read well if we’re giving them books filled with phonetically spelled words? The logic doesn’t make sense to me.

    Anyway, this is more my concern. I don’t blame the school for the content – they didn’t write the book. But I do think that schools should be at least aware of the material on their shelves. Thanks for your comment and especially thanks for the site you left on FB! I needed something like that to give me direction. 🙂

  8. Agree, some of the books Chase used to bring home were just silly.. The only reason I allowed him to check them out sometimes (In 4th and 5th grade!!) was he read soo much and loved to read great chapter books. Those silly books like Captain underpants, gave him a light, fun read, for a “break”, while still reading. I do agree that they shouldn’t have books with mispelled words and what on earth, that book with the info on pg 76. Come on!! I would definately bring that up with Meg B!! That is a VERY bad message to send kids, esp in this day and age with bullying and guns..

    Tia looked cute, B was the star too while there 🙂

  9. I am just not a fan of “let’s put it in the library b/c at least they’re reading SOMETHING” which is what this book sounds like. I’d definitely talk to the librarian about why you don’t think it’s appropriate. Like your friend Katie mentioned above: she might not have even read it herself yet.

    To me there is no excuse for a book full of misspelled words in a school library. Or being published at all. Junie B Jones was banned immediately from our house the first time I read one 2 years ago. She has a bad attitude in addition to words being spelled incorrectly.

    I’d highly recommend Magic Tree House (we have tons of them, and both boys read them to themselves now!) and Boxcar Children…Luke loves those. I’m not a huge fan of Magic School Bus, but that’s just b/c I find them boring, not b/c they’re bad. Luke is also reading the “A to Z Mysteries” series, and they are quick reads for him.

    Sorry. Soapbox.

  10. ok, i wrote this before i read your comment #7 (i thought i refreshed the page that i pulled up earlier but must not have!)…so sorry for practically repeating what you said 🙂

  11. Thanks for the suggestions, Nicole. We haven’t been exposed to Junie B. Jones yet so at least I know to avoid those too. 🙂

  12. Katie Sillman says:

    Kelli I agree with you. That’s why I personally don’t have any books by Dav Pilkey in my libraries. Nor do I have goosebumps books, or picture books with no words – I just don’t like them. I think the problem lies with the publishing companies that will print anything to make a buck. There are a LOT of terrible books being published.

  13. So true, Katie. It’s amazing. Anybody can be an author these days.

  14. So glad Monkey pulled through!

    And rock on with your bad self in terms of those books Kelli! I am right there with you, appalled… probably even more so that someone made money selling those books to early readers!

  15. As a (currently unemployed–LOL!) Library Media Specialist, I just want to reinforce what Katie said. I know you help out at school sometimes, so I’m sure you understand what teachers are dealing with as far as reading is concerned. It’s quite frightening. I hate, hate, hate the Goosebump books, yet at the last library I worked in, those were consistently checked out by kids on lower reading levels. As a teacher, I’d rather see them reading something than nothing at all (or they will never improve).

    However, as a parent, I couldn’t agree more about some of these books. They are so dumb! (But as an LMS, you have to separate your own opinions from the population you serve)

    Can I ask what ages this library serves? I generally say that the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books are for 5th grade +. If your library doesn’t serve that population, you might approach the librarian in that way. I don’t think it is age appropriate for a 7 year old (I also told mine that she couldn’t read it yet). It’s not a librarian’s job to decide what is appropriate for every child to read, but he/she should definitely be glad to steer your son in another direction and give him suggestions if he/she knows your concerns!

  16. Just to clarify, when I said “It’s not a librarian’s job to decide what is appropriate for every child to read..” I meant that each child is different and they will be on various reading levels and ready for certain topics, etc. at different times, not that it is not a LMS’s job to get age-appropriate material. 😉

  17. Ulyana has also got her bossom friend – a lamb Manya by name. It is no longer white as it used to be and no longer fluffy. But Ulyana loves her unconditionally.

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