Perils of filling my kids’ heads with old books

Both kids are reading up a storm this summer, punctuated by long walks and roaming the farm.  And eating, of course.  That, to me, is the perfect summer combination.

The kids are also sharing a lot of books.  When we got a batch of books from the library recently, Nathaniel hunted up books and Katherine hunted up her own, but after they got home and plowed through a few they’d chosen, I soon found them curling up with books that the other one had checked out.  They’ve had fun talking about them, too, or recommending books to each other: “Be careful: there’s a scary bit in this one, but otherwise I think you’ll really like it,” or “Stuart Little is so funny.  You have to read it.”

When I have a say in things, I have been encouraging a lot of classic children’s books, given what I’ve seen from their preferences.  My kids are easily scared or confused by books that have a lot of pop culture references (they weren’t terribly impressed by the Star Wars nods in Wonder, much as they like the rest of the book.  And contemporary books often wind them up before bedtime, rather than help them settle in for the night.  I can see why: reading from an earlier time relied less heavily on suspense and action; even the Nancy Drew books are stuffed with description, far more than dialogue!  But I’m discovering that there are drawbacks to reading from an earlier time.

When we were out driving recently, I sighed when I saw a cement mixer pull onto the same winding, no-passing-for-miles road that I needed to take.  The kids were encouraging: “Maybe he’ll pull off soon.”

“No, babe.  The concrete company is all the way at the end of the road, and I bet he’s headed there.”

Then Katherine surprised me: “Maybe he’s going to his mistress not far from here.”

(Stifling my surprise as best I could): “A what?”

“You know: a mistress.  Someone he works for.”

“Hmm.  Right.”  Then I explained that we don’t tend to use “mistress” to identify a woman we work for any more.  I didn’t explain that we’d dropped that use like a hot potato after the term became a euphemism for other things.

“Oh, okay.”

And off she goes. We’ll see if she remembers my lesson.


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One Response to Perils of filling my kids’ heads with old books

  1. Elizabeth says:

    I had to laugh out loud!

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