It’s no wonder that our world is falling apart when you consider what kinds of things we read to our kids. I’m shocked as I read to the kids; the stories can be quite startling. But the kids like the stories so I keep reading them anyway.
One story they love is the story of Peter Rabbit. Anthropomorphism suits this story well for the most part. Until you get to the line where Peter Rabbit’s mom warns Peter Rabbit to stay away from Mr. McGregor’s garden because
“Your Father had an accident there; he was put in a pie by Mrs. McGregor.”
Imagine being a child and having your mother say this to you.
I’m also unnerved by the Mother Goose nursery rhyme “Goosey, Goosey Gander”:
Goosey, Goosey Gander,
Wither shall I wander?
In my lady’s chamber.
There I met an old man
Who would not say his prayers;
I took him by the left leg,
And threw him down the stairs.
As parents are we supposed to use this story as a threat? As odd as this poem is, I’m not sure if it’s better or worse than the story of the frantic woman who is chased by handicapped mice before she finally cuts off their tails.
Perhaps the creepiest story of all is the disturbing “Love You Forever” by Robert Munsch. It starts off nice enough but quickly degrades into a tale of an aged woman dragging her son, who is a grown man, out of bed after breaking and entering into his home. She then holds him down and rocks him back and forth while singing to him. It’s just like a scene out of a horror movie. Not the “Saw” kind of horror movie – I mean the really freaky movies like “The Sixth Sense” or “The Changeling“. It may just be a rumor, but I heard that the original version of this book ended with the mother’s ghost coming back to haunt the son. She whispered the song in his ear every night until he finally went crazy. They were going to print the story anyway but Sheila McGraw’s illustration showed the mother’s ghost with no eyes in her sockets and it freaked everyone out.
A lot of ladies think “Love You Forever” is a very sweet book but there’s a lot they don’t know about Robert Munsch. First, and most awkward, is that he’s a Canadian. An American-born Canadian, actually. I’m not sure how that works. Second, he wrote a book called “Good Families Don’t”. Since this is a family blog I will limit what I say about this book. Suffice it to say the plot involves beans and the effects of eating said beans.
Now that I think about it, a book that combines the stories from “Love You Forever” and “Good Families Don’t” might actually be a good read.