walkitout (walkitout) wrote,
walkitout
walkitout

A Really Weird List

A friend sent me this link and asked my opinion:

http://www.wired.com/geekdad/2013/03/67-books-every-geek-should-read-to-their-kids-before-age-10/?pid=1118

A couple of things bear mentioning. It's tilted hard over towards male characters, and non-white characters do not have excellent representation. That's enough to pre-offend anyone sensible, but it gets a little odder from there. The list itself is utterly incoherent. And there are things on this list that no one should _ever ever ever_ read to their kid, and they should think long and hard before they read themselves or let their kid read.

Let's start arbitrarily, with Tikki Tikki Tembo.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tikki_Tikki_Tembo

I'm not sure why "every geek [dad?]" should read something like this to their children. I don't think _anyone_ should ever read it again. I don't care _how_ much fun it is to rattle that shit off; it's still offensive.

How about _The Wind in the Willows_? Because humorous depictions of drunk driving that end in property and person damage are _so funny and age appropriate_. Absolutely. (For the record: I liked this book growing up. But when I went to figure out decades later which of my maternal uncles had the really bad incident with drinking, driving, suspended license, hitting parked cars, etc., I figured out that it was most of them. I've worked hard to create a bubble for my children where this stuff doesn't happen. This book will interfere with maintaining the bubble.)

Maybe _Ender's Game_? The must see movie of the year which some have considered boycotting, not because it justifies genocide, or because it recreates in fiction a justification for the Mountain Meadows Massacre -- but because the author came out against Marriage Equality in a particularly appalling way. Spoiled for choice, so tell me again _why should I read this to a child whose morals and values I am trying to form_? (I'm told that the movie has it being a beating in the shower that does not result in a death. Apparently, having a boy kill a peer with his bare, well, whatever, is less acceptable than killing an entire sentient species. I just _love_ my culture. Some days.)

It's a long list. There are books on it that I once loved. But would I really read a story about children running away on a school field trip and hiding in bathroom stalls? (_The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler_). I _have_ read _Curious George_ to the kids, and regretted it as I turned every single page; fortunately, they were incredibly bored and returned to the TV and game versions which are problematic in less painful ways. We all _LOVE_ the entire Harold and the Purple Crayon series -- why not recommend all of them, as was done with many other books?

The idea that anyone is _actually_ going to read all of TLotR to a sub-10 year old, well, I'm pretty sure that person doesn't _have_ kids or maybe hasn't actually read the whole series (altho if you can come up with evidence that Stephen Colbert did this with his kids, I'll retract the statement). So the kids are probably safe in this case. I will warn you all off of reading _Chronicles of Narnia_. That series is nasty, unpleasant and unremittingly Christian in the worst possible ways.

I happily inflicted _Green Eggs and Ham_ and _Where the Wild Things Are_ and even _In the Night Kitchen_ on my children. But you sort of have to wonder why those are on a list with _Holes_ (and I really think you might want to wait till the kids are a little older with _Holes_, altho I suppose it might depend on the kid, and your home environment). I grew up loving _The Lorax_, but its message is actually a little problematic -- it is such an oversimplification that it might not be the best entree for environmentalism. I _adore_ the idea of reading the whole _Mad Scientist Club_ series to a kid. Or even just out loud to myself (_The Big Kerplop_!), but I could see other people thinking maybe _not_ such a good idea (hey, let's convince the whole town that UFOs are invading! Also, nuclear weapon). I reread the Little House series until I'd mostly memorized it, but wow, you are really getting a whole kooky batch of politics along with the domestic detail. Good luck trying to explain _Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH_. To yourself, never mind anyone else, without getting into truly appalling cognitive bias issues, not to mention stigma associated with mental health and the politics of institutionalization then and now and blah blah bleeping blah.

Of course I love that _Phantom Tollbooth_ and _Frog and Toad Are Friends_ made the list, but then again, maybe not. They're stuck on a list with things that scare me (_Ender's Game, TLotR), things I worry about (Mixed Up Files, Mrs Frisby) and things that just make me go, hunh (the Danny Dunn series. I kid you not).

I don't get it. I guess that's not too surprising, since the list is aimed at Geek Dad's. But wow. This thing could use some tweaking.
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