For years now, three to be exact, my wife and I have been purchasing books for our eldest daughter that are WAAAAAY out of her reading age…considering she doesn’t read at all right now and is still learning letters, just about anything that isn’t a printed picture or piece of art is outside of her reading group, but that doesn’t stop us from picking up just about every Dr. Seuss book we can find.
I’ve been meaning to implement more playtime and more non-television related activities before my 3 year old’s bedtime for a few weeks now and thankfully my little girl is an adept mind reader about such things and came downstairs after her mom gave her a bath with a handful of books in tow and wanted this guy (Daddy) to read them to her before bed. The one that I chose to read to her is the subject of this week’s article.
I’ll be truthful here, I’ve not read as many Dr. Seuss books as one might think. Sure, I read most of the big ones like Horton Hears a Who!, The Cat in the Hat, The Lorax, and Green Eggs and Ham, but I never got around to Oh, the Places You’ll Go!…which is probably because it was published in 1990 right before Dr. Seuss died. That put me at 10 years old in deep in the throes of playing on my NES and salivating over the images of the Super Nintendo in my latest issue of Nintendo Power.
So here we sat, curled up in the recliner with the lights turned down to a perfect reading level. My little girl was receptive and ready to be entertained by her dad’s reading voice and narration, so I started reading…and let me say, this is going to come across as prudish, but this book isn’t really meant for pre-readers unless you’re of the parenting mindset that doesn’t want your kid to have any buffer between your kids the harsh realities of the world.
The book is not bad for kids at all, but it does touch on some more mature themes and methods of coping, but the last thing I really want to be telling my daughter right before bed is that life is going to suck sometimes. While it’s true, I’m happy letting her have her fantasy world of Princesses, Barbies, and Dress Up. That’s all on me though, many of you reading this are going to chide me for wanting to protect my daughter from the harshness of the real world when I know that the message is an important one that probably should be taught to children every year of their lives in order for us to break this latest generation of ‘entitled youth’ that think the world owes them everything.
I get it, I really do. You don’t need to give me comments stating as much.
I’m starting to notice a real trend in these Daddy Time posts where I am seemingly being overprotective of my children. That’s life I guess. I personally think that 3 years old is too soon to worry about death, religion, and what a steaming pile of poo that this world can be at times. I just don’t want to be responsible for my kid having to go on anti-depressants at the age of three and 3 months.
I speak in hyperbole of course because that’s a option available to me as the author and as the only defense I have learned over the years, comedy. There’s not enough stuff in this book to drive her to taking massive amounts of Prozac any time soon. It doesn’t even get that harsh in the view of the real world. There were just parts that I didn’t think fit in with the scene I had playing out in front of me. You know, the picturesque dad reading to his kid before bed.
I really did enjoy the book and so did my daughter. I’m sure I’ll be asked over and over again to read the book to her over the next couple of weeks even though I’ve started reading Peter Pan (look for a future Daddy Time) and will start in on the entirety of Shel Silverstein’s work soon enough (I’m one of THOSE types that think that Silverstein > Seuss).
If my little review here has put you on the fence about getting this book for your kids, don’t be. This is an important piece of work that was not only breathtaking in some pages with its simple beauty and message, but also tragic and uplifting at the same time. I do think that when your kid is old enough to know true discouragement or will soon be the recipient of ‘moved cheese’ then this could be one of your best allies when it comes to teaching them about how to cope with setbacks and the importance of dusting yourself off and getting back on track.
Ultimately, this book is mainly written as a self-help guide for kids and has a bit of an optimistic approach towards how important a child is to the future…which is good because I subscribe to the pessimistic view that the world needs ditch diggers too mentality that not everyone will be famous, rich, or generally 100% happy with how their lives turn out. Kids don’t want to hear that when life kicks them in the pants, they want to know that things will ultimately work out in their favor and that things will generally be ok and that if they apply themselves, they will in fact “move mountains”. Thank goodness for works like this that do a better job of easing kids into this mindset over parents like me who would just throw a wrench into the whole process.
All in all, your kid should own this book…not just when they graduate from a specific grade or from school in general. Leave those times for more practical gifts like a good lesson on how to best use credit, or how to balance a checkbook.