book review, books

Literary Behavior Modification – or – Rachel Gets Imaginary Kids In Trouble

I love to read to the girls I baby-sit (Cooper is to little to really listen to books yet, he just tries to eat them).  Sometimes, reading the stories as an adult I realize that there is some sort of misbehavior going on that isn’t dealt with.  I don’t think that sets a very good example for them, so I make some very-ungraceful alterations.  A few examples I have come across are:

  • My Brown Bear Barney by Dorothy Butler – This book was mine when I was a little girl, and when I started reading it to the girls, I noticed an act of out-right defiance to her mother, very visible in the illustrations, so I couldn’t just skip over it.  I thought that that was unacceptable, so instead of reading “we’ll see about that” I said “and she got a spanking when she got home because she disobeyed her mommy, and that is never okay”.  Yeah, I am not an author okay.  I mean I write a blog and that is it. 

  • Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary – I like to read the girls chapter books.  It seems to improve children’s attention spans, plus gets them used to books with no pictures long before it is time for them to be reading them.  So since this is a chapter book, pre-schoolers are not the intended audience, so the behavior of 5 year old Ramona is not really an example to the kids that generally read this.  I LOVE the Ramona books!  But still, in the first chapter or two of this book, Ramona talks about making a big, noisy fuss to get her way.  Since I started reading this before I realized that she was suggesting throwing a fit to get her way, she got a spanking and didn’t get her way after all. 


  • Pee Wee Scouts – Rosy Noses, Freezing Toes by Judy Delton – I had never read this book before, and frankly it isn’t that great.  It is full of snotty, rude, and unkind behavior, and we won’t be reading it again next year.  Some conversations I just skipped over, but at the end, one of the kids runs away from home and refuses to go back unless his mother signs a paper saying that he doesn’t have to practice the violin anymore.  Instead of going and talking to him and discussing the issue, the mother laughs and signs the paper, not dealing with the issue of running away at all.  So at the end of the book I switched things around so that he got sent to his room instead of going to the party.  

I am a little weird about it I guess, I just don’t want to give them examples of inappropriate behavior.  Children come up with ways to misbehave on their own, they don’t need any assistance!

I really love the Little House books, because when Laura or another child misbehaves they have a discussion and discipline is utilized as the parents see fit.  I don’t ever have to “censor” them, which is awesome!

Have you ran into any books you wanted (or did) change around a little bit?



10 thoughts on “Literary Behavior Modification – or – Rachel Gets Imaginary Kids In Trouble

  1. I've noticed the same thing in the books I read my kids! Sometimes I stop and we have a discussion about what SHOULD have happened, or what would happen if they did the same thing. Ramona was one of my favorites as a kid, and my kids seem to enjoy them, too.Amanda

  2. Some books I discuss it with them, depending on the behavior. They are getting pretty good at talking about them now, they say "Oh, no! That is SOOOO naughty!" whenever they notice a character being mean or disobedient. Its pretty cute.

  3. Rachel,You are my neighbor at Our Simple Country Life today. I laughed when I read your post because we took such care with selecting our children's storybooks, along with ones we chose for other children, that this post really resonated with me.Good for you.I'm so glad I stopped by.Peace and good to you.

  4. I supposed I could check out the books before I read them, but I usually get them for super cheap at garage sales or the thrift store so I don't think about it until I am in the middle of the story!

  5. "Hi. I'm Goldie. And I'm mad, Mad, MAD!" This picture book has been in my home for 9 years and it uses the word "hate." And I really hate the word hate! 😉 We're starting our first Ramona book next week and now really looking forward to Little House in the spring. I will say my parenting has mature 10 fold and now I see the necessity of reading (or at least skimming) before I hand something over to my 3rd grader. And now when I read to my preschool I stop and say, "now that doesn't sound very nice, does it?" lolThanks for sharing such a great post! Visiting from Hammock Tracks.

  6. LOL! That's great! I would have done the same thing if I had thought of it hahaha. Those types of books I usually do not finish and then pitch after a brief discussion on proper behavior. I like how you handle it 🙂

  7. I'd never heard of that book before, so of course I went and found it on Amazon. I don't really have strong feelings on the word "hate" (mainly because I say it a lot, about inanimate objects and my dog, and I try really hard not to be hypocritical) but saying she HATES her little brother is pretty harsh! Thank you for stopping by and commenting 🙂

  8. Throwing them out is always an option, but I couldn't bear to throw out My Brown Bear Barney, because I have had it for like 20 years. And throwing out Ramona the Pest would just be sad, because it is such a great book! The Pee-Wee Scouts one however, is going straight to the donation pile (or maybe to bookmooch/swap) because it holds no sentimental value to me.Glad you enjoyed the post, and thank you for taking the time to comment!

  9. I'm so glad you posted this with Cozy Book HopBooks allow for great discussion openers – sure we can just change the words while kids are young. But using the chance to ask kids if what happened was okay, and what they think should have happened allows them to work out scenarios in their heads, instead of trial and error in real life. Sure we wish all our books would teach the perfect lessons we are looking for help to instill in our kids, but life isn't like that, and when books aren't perfect it allows us to talk about life in a safe zone. I think this is a great post!Marissa

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