Posted on

I Hate Curious George

“’Now run along and play, but don’t get into trouble.’ George promised to be good. But it is easy for little monkeys to forget.”

Okay, maybe “hate” is a strong word. But I highly dislike him. This series of popular children’s books will not make it into my library.


George is described as a “good little monkey” but in reality, we would never reward his “curiosity” and behavior in our own children. He runs away from his caretaker, takes things that he shouldn’t (what we would call stealing) and in early books he smokes.


He is obviously representative of a child, and the kids who read the books can relate to him. After all, everyone has an impulse to do things that they are told not to do. When he is supposed to wait in line for a toy store opening in “Curious George Visits a Toy Store”, he snuck inside to make a mess. In “Curious George and the Firefighters”, George sneaks away from the tour group to check out the fire station by himself. Each book starts off with him doing something that he should not have.

Instead of taking the “Little Red Riding Hood” approach, teaching that rule breaking is detrimental, Margret and H.A. Ray show that disobeying safety rules will lead to a reward. Time after time, George is praised for doing the opposite of what he is told to do. Consequently, the man in the yellow hat is always wrong, and George made the right decision – after all, the end justifies the means, right?


Don’t get me wrong, thinking outside the box is a good thing and curiosity is a valuable trait. But George is not the kind of curious I want my daughter to be. When she explores something, it should be in the safety of our backyard, not sneaking off to someone else’s property. In books, neighbors are always nice, but there are some people I do not want her taking candy from. The world is not a safe place for kids who wander off in grocery stores, malls, or zoos. We need to teach children the boundaries of living in our crazy world, and implement basic rules.

When speaking about George in the past, parents tell me “Oh, kids don’t understand that! They don’t see what you see!” Well, kids are sharp, and when there is a clear pattern of Rule breaking=Reward you bet they see a connection. Children are smarter then we think. They are trained to see lessons in stories.

This is not a lesson worth teaching.

Posted on

The Little Red Hen: On Sharing, Entitlement, and Thanks

“No, I will eat it myself!” said the Little Red Hen. And she did.

There are many books with lessons carried out through life. This goes along with the idea that everything you need to learn is taught in kindergarten. Sharing, saying “please,” washing your hands after the bathroom.


My husband was brought up differently than I was. When I was told to share the new toy, he was told that it was his to play with, and no one else’s. When I was told to allow someone to color with my crayons, he was told to keep his safe. He was never pushed to share what was his.

The story “The Little Red Hen” is the argument that my (wonderful) mother-in-law uses. No one helped the hen make her bread, so she will not share her accomplishment with them. If you worked hard to get something, if you are the one who has to clean up afterwards, if you are the one who has to use what is left of that half-broken red crayon, there is no need for you to share.

Of course you can if you want to. But there is no guilt attached.

If you look at this story from the other point of view, you see the valuable lesson that if you don’t pitch in, you don’t reap the rewards. Unfortunately with the world of entitlement, it is unlikely that this idea is going to seep into your child’s mind without some parental prodding.

This is something that both my parents, and my in-laws, agree on. You have to work hard to get what you want. Do not rely on anyone else for something you want.

A third thing that you can bring out from this story is how much work goes into even the smallest thing. Children do not really appreciate what goes into a simple loaf of bread. The planting, reaping, grinding, baking, are all integral work that is needed for this one product. It is worth taking a minute to thank those involved in this process, especially the one who facilitated all of this – God. This book is a great way to explain the meaning of the words “who sustains the entire world with goodness, kindness and mercy. God gives bread to all creatures,” that we say in the Bentching following a meal with bread.


Do you read this story with your child? What lessons do you point out and hope that your child will gain?

Posted on

The Grouchy Ladybug

“At five o’clock in the morning the sun came up. A friendly ladybug flew in from the left. It saw a leaf with aphids on it…”

Eric Carle has a great collection of books for kids with a distinct look. His illustrations are a collage of hand painted paper. His book, “The Grouchy Ladybug”, is an intriguing book with a surprise on each page. Unlike many books, he does not restrict himself to the typical rectangular pages of many children’s books.

The grouchy ladybug and friendly ladybug both found a leaf with aphids on it. The friendly critter wanted to share but the grouchy ladybug did not. “Want to fight?” the grouchy bug dared, then switched its mind and looked for someone bigger to fight. Throughout the day the grouchy ladybug dared a yellow jacket, stag beetle and bigger, until he dared a whale to fight. Needless to say, this experience changes the grouch’s attitude.

Each page features a clock as a way to familiarize children with the time. The child-friendly pictures and flaps make this book a good read for any time of day, and would be great for kids of ages five to seven.  Since this book is aimed for preschool aged kids, it is better to get the paperback book then the board book version.

Which Eric Carle book is your favorite?