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Tuesday, November 8, 2022

What’s appropriate reading material for children?

Lisa DeMarco

A friend recently sent me an email with a link that had me laughing out loud. It also made me question what is considered appropriate reading material these days for children. 

The video was about a lady reading a book in her home during the pandemic. She was not the author. It appeared as if she simply chose to read this particular book. It was a children’s book with illustrations about a young lady who desperately needed to groom her pet beaver. The story is filled with blatant innuendos. The author’s word choice is precise – using well-known phases, only adding to the tale’s double meaning. The pictures also direct adult readers to off-colored visuals, clearly showing the writer’s intent.

During the video, the narrator struggles not to fall over from laughing so hard. While reading, she has to stop and regain her composure several times. This middle-aged, librarian-looking woman admits she is not under any influence, and I don’t think she was acting. She seemed genuinely unaware of the storyline before turning each page. By the end, we both needed tissues from crying out in laughter. 

Then, even as disturbing as the story seemed, I couldn’t resist wanting to share it with everyone I knew immediately. I can’t imagine the author did not intend to write this story as he did. Yet, I cannot believe society allows it to be categorized as a “Children’s Book.” 

As a professionally published author of both children’s and adult genres, I know the guidelines for getting your work published, marketed, sold, and read in both categories. I also know that free advertising and word of mouth are priceless. Thanks to the internet, sometimes authors get lucky and get their work out into the world without barely doing a thing. It only takes one person’s interest in what you sell to skyrocket you into a “viral zone” you never expected. 

My daughter, Makenzie Rae, constantly questions my unique sense of humor and appropriateness in my adult forum. I can only imagine the fit she’d pitch if she accidentally brought this book home to read to her 7-year-old nephew. I would hope at Jeremy’s young age and sheltered upbringing, he wouldn’t understand any of the underlying meaning of the story. Nonetheless, suppose the kids are old enough to understand the double meaning. In that case, they could easily influence Jeremy to come home from school and ask grandma and papa Joe some seriously uncomfortable questions. 

Seven years old seems too early for the “Birds and Bees” chat. If anyone even still does that. Yet nowadays, some people don’t know what their children are learning. Luckily for me, this time with Jeremy, it’s a boy thing, and grandpa’s in charge. May the force be with us.

As for the creator of this masterpiece? I did some detective work and learned that the composer had published several children’s books, which all follow the same design. The stories are aimed at entertaining adults while reading to young children. Brilliant. Yet, a bit alarming, considering we now deem the wonderful Dr. Seuss inappropriate.

Laugh on. Peace out! 

Lisa DeMarco is a columnist for Villages-News.com.

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