Kids’ Books: Books I Wish My Daughter Didn’t Love

When we are buying books for children, we tend to be drawn to the types of books we might personally enjoy. We can’t help it. It can come as a bit of a surprise when our kids remind us that they have their own tastes, tastes that are different than ours. It’s a positive thing, really.  It’s a part of developing their individual personality, and choosing books and toys on his/her own is one of the first ways a kid learns to think for him/herself and gain confident decision-making skills.

However, sometimes the books my daughter loves are the ones that make me cringe. I try to keep the “Oh lord, not again,” on the inside so as not to ruin the magic of bedtime, but sometimes it’s hard.

However (again), when all else fails, these are the books that are guaranteed to please. If you have a kid who is less than enthusiastic about books, the gimmicky pain in the ass books may be something to try. Think of them as icebreakers in the cocktail party of literacy.

10 Button Book

I hate the Button Book. MiniB knows this, because she has asked for it so often that I stopped being able to restrain my groans. She doesn’t care that I hate it. She thinks it’s funny. Now she chooses it with a wicked twinkle in her eye when she feels like playing a trick on me. It is a counting book with a few words per page (One button Billy. Two buttons silly. I can recite the whole thing from memory, if you’d like.). Attached to the book are ten, one-inch plastic buttons on pretty ribbons, and each page has the appropriate number of spaces where you can fit said buttons. There are five attached to the top and five on the bottom, so we each get half to place. This is where the groan comes in. MiniB, the future graphic designer, has definite opinions about what colors should go where, and it changes every single time. I always try to use the “wrong” colors, so there ensues complex negotiations, revisions, and bargaining about who gets to put which color where. Again, it encourages counting, decision-making, and reading. It’s a good book. It even has a label promising that it has been safety tested so your baby won’t choke or strangle. I still want to hide it sometimes.

Strawberry Shortcake Scratch-N-Sniff

These books piss me off. I love Strawberry Shortcake. I love to scratch-n-sniff (except the chocolate ones – I always pretend to smell the chocolate ones because fake fudge smells give me a headache). These loves are not enough to overcome the fact that the writing is terrible. The newer books are slightly better, but they still read like they were written by fifth graders who are trying to sound grown-up. Call me crazy, but I don’t think we raise good readers and writers by giving them crap examples when they are young. The ones that aren’t scratch-n-sniff are even worse because they are unrelieved bad writing without the nostalgia factor of odd chemical fruit smells.

Piano Books

Oh dear lord, these are the worst. They have a little working keyboard with labeled, color-coded keys. Each page has a short musical score, usually featuring simple songs like “Hot Cross Buns” with new lyrics, tailored for whoever is on the cover. We have the Disney Princess version, but Thomas the Tank Engine and Mickey Mouse are both readily available. The keyboard is loud. When MiniB asks for a demonstration, as she is wont to do, the keys are too small for my giant man-fingers. When she plays her own songs, the result can politely be described as “cacophony.” The upside is, with the door closed I can’t really hear the not-quite-music and she is very happy to play her piano on her own.  I do like things that let her entertain herself.

By [E]SaraB

Glass artisan by day, blogger by night (and sometimes vice versa). SaraB has three kids, three pets, one husband and a bizarre sense of humor. Her glass pendants can be found at if you're interested in checking it out.

19 replies on “Kids’ Books: Books I Wish My Daughter Didn’t Love”

I had that stupid button book in my classroom. I’d hide that thing behind ten other books on the shelf and the kids would still find it.

I was also not a fan of the Dr. Suess branded books that were clearly not written by Dr. Suess. They stink of poser.

My parental torture book as a child was “If I Ran the Circus” by the real Dr. Suess, because it was full of made up words that made my mom roll her eyes while trying to pronounce them.

My son has a few books I’d love to burn on a funeral pyre. One is called ABC, 123 or something asinine like that and has various baby faces making expressions that correspond to every letter of the alphabet, and it has counting, too. The rhyming is so, so bad in it and they used ‘eXcited’ for the letter X, which really bugs me. I also hate reading the books with sounds because Cal sits there and pushes the same buttons over and over and over and doesn’t listen to the story. But, if I stop reading, he gets upset.

He does happen to have a rare Elmo Potty book that says, ‘Haha, Who wants to die?’ when you press a button instead of, ‘Who wants to potty?’. It was on the news, even. I found it at a flea market and bought it and it sits high on a shelf for nostalgia factor.

I love to read him Dr. Seuss, and books from my childhood like If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and Polar Express. Our very favorite is Put Me In the Zoo, which is a Seuss book under a pen name.

My “Button Book” when I was a kid was Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb, which I made my mom read to me over and over and over and over. I am pretty sure she can still recite it verbatim, and I am almost 30 years old.

Growing up, my brothers and I had one book that made noise. It was a Richard Scarry Christmas music book with a keyboard. Somehow the thing still works, though it has gotten much quieter and more distorted. We had an electric organ and other noisy stuff to bang on when we were kids, though. I think it must have done us some good, though, because all 3 of us played in band for 7 years and took piano lessons.

We have some real instruments for her to play, and I enjoy her concerts (most of the time). She built herself a drum kit while we cleaned out the garage this weekend and it was awesome, she even convinced her uncle to build her a stage to play on. The electric tone from the piano books just makes my brain hurt.

Mr. Cupcake and I have been talking about having a baby and a big part of our discussions have centered around what we’re going to read to our imaginary baby (who we’ve decided to name Zoltan – if it becomes an actual baby, we’ll find something more appropriate).

I’d like to read Zoltan such classics as “The Little Engine that Could”, “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs”, and “Amelia Bedelia”. Mr. Cupcake feels those books promote false hopes.

I find the writing in just about ANY Little Golden book or any cheap-ass adaptation of a Disney or Pixar movie to be abysmal. My daughter has a collection of Little Golden Princess books that make me cringe. For my son, it’s a horribly written Cars book that he wants every night. I know I could ghost write these so much more eloquently. Hey, Little Golden people — PM me if you’d like to see my resume!

Ugh. Kids books that make sounds are THE WORST. The ones with the keyboards are probably the worst offenders, but the ones with buttons down the side (and while you’re reading you come across an icon and then you press the corresponding button) are also awful. When I was a nanny one of my charges effing LOVED those books. And there was a small incident on a plane once, that I prefer not to relive.

I feel your pain. I just bought at least 20 quality books in Spanish for my classroom when I went to Mexico over spring break. I also picked up a few Disney Princesses/Toy Story/Cars etc… books that are along the line of your Strawberry Shortcake books.

Which ones do you think my students got most excited about and want me to read and reread to them?

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