Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Book Club

Blue Girl knocked down a little girl at a bookstore. Besides making me look better, or at least less bad, her post about the incident brought to mind the stories I used to read to my children when they were small, back in the days before we'd stay up late watching "Resident Evil" and "Pulp Fiction."

Like Blue Girl, I was a fan of "Pat the Bunny," even though my Lovely Bride had to explain to me that "Pat" was a verb and not the bunny's name. "Pat the bunny," I'd say to my toddler, holding the book in front of his face. "I said, pat the damn bunny! Christ, if you can't even do that how are we ever going to toilet train you?"

"The Runaway Bunny" was another favorite of the rabbit genre. I read this book to my oldest and middle sons pretty much every night for months. "Now, when you grow up and run away," I'd say, looking down into their trusting eyes, "mommy and daddy aren't going to come looking for you. You'll be hasenpfeffer. That's what 'idle threat' means."

Not surprisingly, "Where the Wild Things Are" also found itself in heavy rotation around our household. Who wouldn't enjoy a chance to stomp around a small child's room right before bedtime, gnashing one's terrible teeth and showing one's terrible claws? Even better, I'd once seen the opera based on this story and would often render my own unforgettable version of the libretto.

As they grew older, their tastes began to mature. I've always loved reading out loud, although I can, contrary to rumor, read without moving my lips, and I jumped at the opportunity to introduce them to age-appropriate classics.

"Call of the Wild," with its astoundingly bloody ending. An hour after finishing the book, while attempting to soothe the ensuing nightmares, the Lovely Bride first asked the question that has since become a hallmark of our lives together and for which I still don't have a satisfactory answer. What the hell is wrong with me?

"Animal Farm," a selection that caused raised eyebrows around the neighborhood as well as my four-year-old's never explained demand that I change the donkey's name to "Oddwell" wherever it appeared. And my wife wonders what the hell is wrong with me?

"The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," which I started as a celebration of Banned Books Week. I have to confess, I wimped out on the use of the "N word" and referred to the runaway slave throughout simply as "Jim." Images of my children throwing racial slurs around preschool prevailed over my desire to stay true to the source material.

"Charlotte's Web," the conclusion of which caused my Lovely Bride to burst into tears, scaring the hell out of the boys. Again, I ask, she wonders what the hell is wrong with me?

It's been a long while since I've read to any of my kids at night. Do they still read? Not as much as I wish they did, but sometimes. What do they choose, what have they grabbed off our shelves? Plenty of nonsense to be sure, but also "In Cold Blood." "The Outsiders." "Catcher in the Rye." "Shoeless Joe." "The Grapes of Wrath." "All the Pretty Horses." "A Confederacy of Dunces."

So maybe there was nothing the hell wrong with me after all.


Chuckles said...

I feel like I was deprived of a decent education. All I got was Danny the Champion of the World, the BFG, and the Witches and I had to read these all to myself.

Of course, that was last week so maybe I should get some help.

Anonymous said...

i got soviet illustrated books, which probably explains why i turned out such a commie nazi

Jennifer said...

Let Snag's wild rumpus start!

Anonymous said...

I loved reading to blue kid when he was little. But, he doesn't read so much anymore. Mostly because it's something I'd love for him to do and he normally chooses to do the opposite of what I'd like him to do.

I need to learn to keep my mouth shut!

He *had* to read The Lovely Bones over the summer for school. He was enthralled by that story and talked to me constantly about it. But, it didn't inspire him to pick up something else when he was done.

Kids! Brando! Just you wait!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link, Snag.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

Young Pilgrim loves to read, and we read to him ALL the time.

Nothing exciting like Snag though.

Of course, all the Harry Potter books, cuz we're Christian-killing EEVIL liberals; a series of fantasy books about cats called Warriors; he read King's Eyes of The Dragon, and recently "What's Science Ever Done for Us" based on science included in episodes of the Simpsons.

Of course, this is all between playing video games which obviously take precedence.

Righteous Bubba said...

In Fox in Socks Mr. Knox stuffs that fucking yammering varmint into a bottle with fighting beetles. That shut the fox up but quick and Mr. Knox was happy.

Kathleen said...

I bet there was a lot of reading to the kiddos of Hop on Pop by your wife.

Snag said...

There were a lot of readings of "Hop on Pop" by me to my wife, to little avail.

Kathleen said...

amazing how I leave the door wide open and never realize it.

fish said...

amazing how I leave the door wide open and never realize it.

My oldest will require serious psychotherapy when she is older for a similar reason.