When it comes to books, is it possible to over-indulge a child? I’m asking because I really don’t know.
The issue starts with us as parents, I suppose. Hubby and I know we have a problem. When we met, we were both carting around these huge nonfiction collections: his obsession was (and is) sports biographies, mine is medical. Despite several moves and mandatory cullings, we still have an office and an attic full of titles so beloved, we can’t part with them, not for all the precious storage space it would free up.
Neither of us has time for pleasure-reading anymore, but we certainly read plenty of children’s books. Those Scholastic catalogs that come home in the backpacks, man, they kill me. Then there’s the gorgeous Barefoot books catalog, the ease of Amazon Prime, and the virtuous kid reward at the store (“If you’re good, maybe I’ll let you pick out a book!”)
So today, when I took Babyboy with me to Target, I didn’t think much of it when he started asking for a book. He begged and begged, all through the store. But he wanted a very specific Captain Underpants book that I knew they wouldn’t have. And, they didn’t.
He didn’t care about any of other bright and colorful books they had, nor the toys, nor junk food… no, it had to be Captain Underpants. In full color.
If you’re not familiar with the Captain Underpants graphic children’s novels, they’re kinda cute, very sarcastic, and slightly subversive superhero stories written by Dav Pilkey, a man who is very honest about his horrid childhood, when he was bullied by schoolkids and teachers alike. Well, this series is an apt revenge, and I bet he’s laughing all the way to the bank.
Babyboy’s first taste of Pilkey’s work was a gift set from one of our most intellectual friends, a history of science professor who has boys of her own. Those kids are brilliant, and they loved this series, so it’s got to be alright, I remember thinking.
I was a little shocked at all the potty humor at first, but I’ve grown fond of the series, especially the not-so-subtle political commentary (G.O.P. as an acronym for “grumpy old people”, would be a mild example). Babyboy has become enamored, obsessed, even, with these books.
So we left Target without a book, and Babyboy begged and begged: could we pleeeease stop at Barnes and Nobles? Pleeeeeeeease?
I thought about it: We had time. I wanted to support his love of books, which is clearly boosting his reading and writing skills. Plus, how many first graders want nothing better than a new book? Is that weird?
So to Barnes and Nobles we went (yes, we are members). He beelined to the kid’s section and immediately found “Captain Underpants and the Perilous Plot of Professor Poopypants”, whooped for joy and grabbed it and plopped down on the carpet to start reading out loud.
I had to remind him that we needed to actually pay for it, and that’s when I wondered if what I was really doing was spoiling him rotten.
Can you spoil a kid with books?
I’m curious what people think. Then, I’d love to hear what people think about his other obsession: writing books. Books kind of like Dav Pilkey’s, except even sillier and more nonsensical. That’s another post though.