Monday, August 16, 2004

Beware of children's books

Boy, you just can't trust children's books. I'm reading a book with my son that his teacher gave him for Christmas -- Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner, a nice looking adventure story about a boy who needs to win a dog race to save his grandfather's farm, and here we come to the last chapter and I peek ahead to see that the dog dies at the end. And he dies before the race is won, so I can't even try to trick my son into thinking that the book's really over before that. How can you end a book with the dog dying? I'm trying to motivate this kid to read, and I wouldn't blame him if he's afraid to start the next book. We loved that dog.

Meanwhile, I'm reading another "7th Heaven" book with my daughter -- you know, a written version of an episode of the nice TV series about a minister and his family -- and it turns out that this particular episode was all about sex. Rivals has a picture of Camden sisters Lucy and Mary on the cover, and may look like a simple sibling rivalry tale, but really it's about Lucy wondering whether she should sleep with her boyfriend, and Matt making a video for his Human Sexuality class, and their parents counseling a couple of pregnant teens. And really, I know, my daughter's 14, I should be talking about this stuff with her, and a book about characters she likes is a good inroad to that. All I'm looking for, though, is a little light summer reading here, and I'm knee-deep in sex and death. The kids are always complaining about my read-every-night regime, and I'm starting to feel a little reluctant to sit down to each night's chapter myself.

On the subject of books: If like me you have an insatiable need to buy parenting books, I want to pass the word that is having a big sale that includes some books on parenting and families. Offerings include "The Myth of Laziness: America's Top Learning Expert Shows How Kids -- and Parents -- Can Become More Productive" by Mel Levine for $6.98; "Should I Medicate My Child? Solutions for Troubled Kids With -- or Without -- Psychiatric Drugs" by Lawrence H. Diller for $6.98; "Touchpoints: Your Child's Emotional and Behavioral Development" by T. Berry Brazelton for $4.98; and "The Parent's Guide to Childhood Eating Disorders: A Nutritional Approach to Solving Eating Disorders" by Marcia Herrin for $3.98. Happy shopping!

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