Mutterings of a Fool

Man, Dad, Runner, Chief dog walker

The children’s books that belong in room 101

I love books. Matilda and Henry love books. We have books in almost every room and if you sit down for more than 10 seconds you are likely to be handed a book to read. One of my very favourite things is reading a bedtime story to them. But sometimes I see Matilda walk around the corner carrying a book and my heart sinks, for in her hands is a book that is simply painful to read. A book that makes your ears bleed a little as you hear yourself reading it.

These books are destined to be lost very quickly, hidden in a bag at the back of the cupboard until you can get them out of the house and safely deposited at the charity shop where another lucky parent can experience the joy of reading them.¬†Or wrapped up and given as a present at the next birthday party you attend, although that is of course a risky strategy if presents are opened at the party and your child realises what you’ve done.

So ladies and gentlemen I submit to you here the books that I think deserve to be put into room 101:

Frozen Disney bookAll books published by Disney; I’d potentially go as far as to say that any book that started as a film and then became a book should be in this category. These books are just another piece of merchandise that good old Disney can sell us along with all the other tat. The strategy seems to be to summarise a whole film into 20 pages or so in a writing style of a primary school student and then throw in lots of colourful pictures. Matilda received a Frozen one for Christmas (of course) and it’s just dreadful which is amazing considering that the film is so good (maybe it’s the lack of singing in the book).

The whole collection of Mr Men books; one of my earliest memories is being primary school age and watching a Mr Men cartoon featuring Mr Strong and loving it. I think I might even have had a Mr Strong bag I loved it so much, but this is definitely one childhood memory that should stay in the past. When Matilda was old enough I quite excitedly sat down to read her her first Mr Men book, one of those big moments as a parent where you share something you love with your child. But the puzzled look on her face said it all, the story had no flow to it and didn’t really make sense. The prose certainly wasn’t a patch on Shirley Hughes or Roald Dahl.Mr Men, Thomas and Friends books

Any book with wee or poo in the title; or any bodily fluid for that matter, when I sit down to read a bed time story do I really want to describe a dinosaur pooping Christmas? I have no doubt that were Henry and Matilda 2 or 3 years older they would think all the mentions of poo hilarious, but this trend to make children’s books disgusting just feels like cheap laughs.

Thankfully the books we read regularly tend to be a little bit more sophisticated, things like The Ladybird heard and Alfie’s new boots, they’re the ones the children take off the bookshelf time and time again. What about you, what books would you put into room 101?

5 Comments

  1. You have clearly never read ‘The Story of the Little Mole who knew it was none of his Business’ A classic.

    But, yes to Disney. Well, no. You know what I mean.

  2. Definitely the Mr Men books can’t stand them ! I also agree with Walt Disney. Chicken Licken and books of the same style drove me mad reading them. Dr Zeuss I remember now as boring you may not recall those!

  3. Couldn’t agree more. I actually read a Mr Men book to Olivia last night and it was crap. As you say it didn’t flow and was badly written. Won’t be reading that again.

  4. I’m so with you on the books based on films that exist just to cash in. Similarly, we’ve got various Peppa Pig ones that assorted relatives who obviously hate us have gifted. Not only do they tell the same two-dimensional tale badly, they also include the little sod snorting and giggling. Argh!

  5. I am careful not to let them know when I think a book is terrible because if they enjoy it then I feel I shouldn’t influence that. However, the ones I can’t stand to read are ones about Poppy and Honey. I can’t remember much more about them, but the girls always want pink satin dresses and live in Honeysuckle village or somewhere equally sickly. Another is The Secret Fairy Talent Show. Awful. Both were given to the girls second hand and are completely gender stereotyped. I don’t worry too much though as we have so many wonderful books and I love watching the girls pick them up and re tell them in their own words.

    At the moment E loves The Faraway Tree books- I never read these as a child and I know they are very well loved by many. To be honest, the worlds just seem plain silly and the story slightly dull, but then I suppose it’s not supposed to appeal to me! She also likes getting non-fiction books like ‘Looking after Gerbils’ from the library which are nice to read for a change. Little one’s faves by far are Room on the Broom, The Gruffalo and Gruffalo’s Child. One of my favourites to read is probably ‘The Paper Dolls’.

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