“BRAT” in a Children’s Book?

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As many of you know Ava is 4 and learning to read.  I often take out “Easy Readers” from the library for us to read together.  This week one of the books I have out is from the I’m Going to READ! Series by Sterling Publishing Co.  It is called, Sometimes I Share and is a Level 1.  These books are written more for new readers than for being a great storybook. I saw the word share and thought, “We could always use a little encouragement in this department!”  So I checked it out and brought it home.  Did I preview it first? No.  I did not really think I would have to.  I was wrong.

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Here is the scene.  I am sitting in the girls locker room with Ava, reading books to kill time before her swimming lesson.  She chooses this lovely book called Sometimes I Share.  She climbs up on my lap and we start to read.  She reads the words that she can, we sound out some she is close to and I say any others that seem too hard for her.  The book is about a young girl and her relationship with her little brother.  Sometimes she plays with him, reads with him, splits a cookie with him, lets him play with her friends, but watch out when she doesn’t want him any more because she says, and I quote:  I say, “Go away, you brat!”  He of course gets mad and doesn’t share with her.   So then on the following page he says, and I quote: And he says, “Go away, you brat!” In closing on the next and final pages the book says, “Sometimes we both share.  And that’s nice.”

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Seriously!  I am reading this with my 4 year old who has older siblings, and often fights with them over toys, food, chairs, breathing, you name it!  So then the example this book is setting is that she should call them “brats” and be mad at them?  Not exactly what I had in mind.  What I am getting is that we are going to model a sibling relationship in which they get a long well and share together, but when one decides they don’t want the other one around, they are going to call names and everyone is okay with that?  This book  could have stood on its own without those two pages.  Or better yet, if they wanted to address this issue more appropriately, how about saying something like, “Sometimes I don’t want to share.  That makes my brother sad.  Later I say I am sorry and we share again.”

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For whatever reason this book really hit a nerve with me.  Ava is my youngest of three children.  We have read more books with and to our children than I can possibly keep track of.  At any given time we have at least 30+ books out of the library.  NEVER have I been so taken aback by the content of a children’s book!  The only thing that comes close is my irritation with the Junie B series and her lack of speaking correct English (which is a whole separate rant!).  I have already left a negative review of this book at Amazon and plan to do so at Barnes & Noble and any other site where I can give a review.  I have also been given an e-mail address of which I can use to express my complaint to the publisher.  Which I fully intend to do!  I am even considering talking to our children’s librarian about it. I am not sure how many people had to read/review this book before it went into publication, but it certainly makes me question all of them and their judgement!

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If you read this and agree that this is not the most appropriate scenario for a children’s book, please share my blog post with others (Facebook, Twitter, e-mail a link) to help me spread the word. At the very least it will help other parents to be informed ahead of time about what is really coming in the book.