Friday, November 1, 2013

The Board/Bored Book Approach

In last Sunday's NYTimes, on the front page no less, appeared an article about a new market in board books for little kids, the kind of book usually used to teach ready identification of numbers, colors, animals, alphabet letters, and so on.

The title?  Moby Dick no less.

What have we come to?  Where is wonder?

There are only numbers, pictures to be identified, quantitative entities and an occasional quote, if you're lucky.

One of my all-time favorite experiences of literature at its most profound occurred in a rowboat in the middle of a pond in the Catskills.  Every day I would row my children out together with a copy of Don Quixote, the real deal.  I would read to them a chapter a day.  One day, at the beginning of a dialogue between the Don and Sancho Panza, my daughter (then 8) and my son (5) burst out laughing and declared, both at the same time: "I know what he's going to say!"  They had him and it down. They knew it was hilarious.  Bless them.  Bless children.

Do NOT dumb down.  What would Moby say?