Some of 3B’s books are dreadfully banal, attempting to demonstrate good habits through the characters they portray. They include clunky, awkward, and ugly pages designed to prompt us to say things like, “Look, the cows and the sheep don’t pinch their mommy and daddy.” Or “Do you see the cats brushing their teeth?” (Although 3B loves brushing his teeth, it’s more because he’s been soothed by it since three months, when he started teething, than as a result of any picture in a book.)
3B also loves books of photos, many of which are filled with pages of photos of smiling kids doing things like eating with their bibs laying neatly around their necks, rather than torn off and flung down on the floor. And, seriously, how did they get that picture? I heard they had to sew the bib onto the kid’s onesie and duct tape the onesie to the kid . . . does that work? Do you know where our duct tape is?
I appreciate the attempts that these books make to help us by modeling desirable behavior, but these books are clearly produced by committees, not by actual parents, because they are far too basic and sterile in their messages. To help these committees sharpen their messages and produce useful books, I have drafted this list of role model behavior that I would like to see modeled in kids books, although I believe in showing consequences as an effective deterrent:
- Look, the cat played with the knobs on the stove and burst into flames. Owwie.
- See the parrot who dropped his toy into the toilet and got flushed with his toy down the toilet and out to sea. Oopsie.
- Here’s a dog who played with the heavy drawers in the kitchen and broke all the fingers on his hand. His name is now Lefty.
- Look, the monkey has become thinner than his shadow because he refuses to sit down in his high chair, which is the only place he’ll eat. His name is Slim, and he will disappear tomorrow if he doesn’t sit down and eat something today. Right now.
- See the rabbit who rolls off his changing pad before his butt is wiped off and scrambles away and bounces around the house. See him next to Cinderella, scrubbing poop off of the floors at midnight? Scrub, little bunny, scrub!
- Here’s the hyena who insisted on standing up in the bathtub and stretching across the room to grab his toothbrush, causing him to lose his perilous footing in the tub, at which point he fell behind the toilet and rolled under the sink cabinet, never to see his parents again. Very sad. If only he’d listened to his parents when they told him to be careful in the tub, he wouldn’t be an orphan now.
- Look, the billy goat filled up the hair-rinsing bucket with bathwater, poured it down his throat, and then hacked, gagged, and barfed his way through the rest of bathtime. Barf, billy goat, barf!
Really, would something more concrete like these examples be so hard to include?
How about you, my six loyal readers, anything that you would like for the authors of kids books to model in their art or stories?