When we went to the library last week, Jane found not one but three Disney Princess easy reader books. I hate these books. They’re pure twaddle, bad books badly written. To wit:
Jasmine must choose a skirt or a gown.
Her friend Rajah looks on with a frown.
Jasmine and Aladdin enjoy a starry night.
Her green outfit is truly just right.
Now I’m no poetry expert, but even I can see that this is abominable verse. The singsongy rhythm and forced rhyme are annoying enough, but the fact that this whole book is about what the princesses wear – ugh! I wanted to poke out my eyes.
Doug just flat out refused to read the books. “Why do you let her bring them home?” he asked me. “They’re horrific.”
I just stared at him. It had never occurred to me that I could censor these books. I mean, I’m a supporter of the first amendment and all. “I can do that?” I said. “Make her leave them at the library?”
It was Doug’s turn to stare. “You’re her mother.”
“But it’s censorship.”
“Kimberlee, she’s four. She doesn’t know how to discern good literature from crap writing. We have to teach her. How’s she going to learn that this -” he waved his hand at the pile of Disney princess books “- is garbage if you keep filling her brain with it? You wouldn’t let her eat Twinkies, so why would you let her feed junk food to her mind?”
Doug was right. I’d never let Jane eat a steady diet of junk food. We don’t even keep junk food in the house (well, with the occasional exception of barbeque potato chips, for which I have a secret weakness). Over the course of these four years, Doug and I have taught her to like food that is good for her body. The girl eats – and enjoys – kale salad, broccoli, spinach, and chard. Sure, she might eat her weight in Twinkies if we let her, but we don’t.
I am horrified when people tell me they feed their kids Nutella and Fluff sandwiches on WonderBread because that’s what they want to eat.
But that’s what I’ve been doing with these stupid Disney princess books. I’ve been letting her eat Nutella and Fluff simply because she likes it.
Um, hello? Where has my brain been? Apparently I’ve been eating too much Nutella and Fluff, too. Well, no more, for either of us. It’s time for me to teach her to like book-food that is good for her mind.
She can read the twaddle at the library if she wants, but for now I’ve decided it’s going to stay at the library. No more junk books or brain candy in the house. There are so many good books to read – far more good books to read than time to read them. From here on out, the books we bring home will be like the food we bring home: nourishing and delicious.
Because life’s too short to read bad books.