When my girl was first born, buying a glider where I envisioned reading to her for years to come was one of my priority purchases. And nearly two and a half years later, reading to her continues to be one of my absolute favorite activities.
We have a lot of cherished books, but one that
we both jointly gravitate toward is "Love
You Forever" by Robert Munsch. I love this book so much, in fact, that I
have the main lines emblazoned across my daughter's nursery room wall—a
constant reminder that I will love her forever.
Of course, I couldn't have chosen a more
controversial book if I had tried. In fact, fellow mom.me contributor, Sheila
Quirke, recently touched on that controversy in a piece that is too
good to miss. For what it's worth, I share her opinion whole-heartedly. No
one is suggesting you should be crawling through your grown child's window in
the middle of the night 20+ years from now. That's not the message of the book.
It's more about the eternal love we have for our kids, and how even when they
are frustrating the hell out of us, that love never fades.
Though it is, perhaps, stronger when they are
Either way, the controversy surrounding this
book always makes me laugh. Because really, are there any children's books that should be taken all that literally? What
would it look like if we tore them all apart, much like the critics often
dismantle "Love You Forever"?
Yes, this is a beloved classic. But has anyone
ever actually read this book? That kid is a little asshole, and he grows into a
painfully selfish adult that no one would ever actually want to spend any time
with. And why is he always so unhappy? Nothing is ever good enough, and he
always comes back to the tree all gloom and doom. Meanwhile that tree is standing
there, willing to literally give everything it has just to be touched by this
This is a classic case of co-dependency. The
boy needs anti-depressants, and maybe evaluation for sociopathic tendencies,
while the tree needs talk therapy and the confidence to walk away.
The moral of the story? If you don't want to take a nap, attempt to kill your grandmother.
My daughter adores this book. She will laugh
and laugh through every page, and asks to read it again and again. But really,
this is a book about extreme co-sleeping and a house that is riddled with
Think about it. Grandma is sleeping in a twin
bed when a child, who looks to be about 7 or 8 years old, climbs on top of her—which somehow, miraculously, doesn't wake her up. They are then joined by a
dog on top of the child, and a cat on top of the dog. What are these creatures
doing, and why are they all in the bed trying to suffocate grandma? The kid even has a pillow over grandma's head!
But that's not the worst part. Then, a mouse
joins them. And a flea. And suddenly, the bed comes crashing down, probably
because it has been eaten through by termites. Yet everyone is somehow totally OK and goes outside to play. The moral of the story? If you don't want
to take a nap, attempt to kill your grandmother in her sleep and then jump on
the bed until it breaks.
So, this is a book that is supposed to be
about sharing and eschewing vanity, right? But do you know what it is a really about? A fish who is so eager to
make friends, that he is willing to literally strip pieces of his own flesh
away, giving the remnants to others in order to convince them to like him.
Who doesn't love "The Cat in the Hat"? It's a
fun book about ridiculous goings-on that gets kids cracking up. But at its
core, it's also a book about unlocked doors and home invasion. Also, it may be
a lesson in cleaning up after that house party, covering your tracks when mom
and dad go out of town and leave you alone for the first time 10 to 15 years
Children's books are all a little effed up if you think about them too hard.
I'm sharing both these books at once because
they have exceptionally similar themes. In fact, I could even argue that one
was probably inspired by the other—though that's not the point. The point is, we
love both of these books, but they are both about seriously testing
If you haven't read them, they each follow a
similar theme of a child presenting increasingly extreme scenarios. ("What if I
turned into a polar bear, and I was the meanest bear you ever saw, and I had
sharp, shiny teeth, and I chased you into your tent and you cried?" ~ "Mama
Do You Love Me?") After each of these fabricated scenarios, the child then
looks at the mother expectantly and she repeatedly explains how her love would
I used to play this game when I was a kid,
too, and other variations of it. ("What if there was a fire and you could only
save me or my brother—who would you choose?") But really, how far could this
theme go? "What if I stole from your purse," "What if I beat the kid next door
up," "What if I committed a mass murder?"
Sure, that's extreme. And realistically, we
would all love our kids no matter what. But shouldn't there also be a
conversation somewhere in there about consequences? Just so that the kid doesn't go out into life actually
testing how far that love will go?
You see, children's books are all a little
effed up if you think about them too hard. So stop overanalyzing them, and just
sit back and enjoy the read. I promise, your kid isn't thinking about those
stories nearly as literally as you are!