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Tales From the Crib

I often wonder if my sense of impending doom was caused by Dick and Jane.

The Berenstain Bears handle things so much better than I do. My foster daughters (a 6-year-old and a 3-year-old) and I have many of their books: The Berenstain Bears Count Their Blessings, The Berenstain Bears in the Dark, The Berenstain Bears Get in a Fight, and The Berenstain Bears Get the Gimmes. Each one has been a beacon of truth and guidance to me. I long for Stan and Jan Berenstain to take on further reading topics like The Berenstain Bears Avoid Sex, The Berenstain Bears Get Depressed, The Berenstain Bears Writhe in Self-Doubt, and The Berenstain Bears Lose Their Keys.

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Lots of kids' books are good for adults. It's anyone's guess which books are good for kids. I often wonder if my perpetual sense of impending doom was caused by those Dick and Jane books we were forced to read as kids. What was Dick always running from? And why did he have to be told twice? Maybe I could have handled that sort of thing had I read it as an adult, but I suspect that reading Dick and Jane in our early childhood crippled many of us emotionally.

It's hard to find books that are actually good for both me and my kids. We have some really bad children's books on our shelves because I often take the kids with me to the bookstore, and I have shamelessly judged books by their covers in my haste to get out of the store before one of the kids drools on an atlas or runs amuck in the self-help section.

That's how we ended up with The Teeny Tiny Woman. It's about a small woman who finds a bone on a grave, takes it home to make soup, and is haunted by a ghost who wants it back. My kids loved it. It was a regular at nap time for months. I'm more careful in my selections now, but in fairness to me, "Stay away from books about grave robbing" and "Steer clear of cooking with human remains" are not cautions I thought I had to take in the children's book section.

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