Call Me Ishmael, Says the Toddler

Thursday, October 31, 2013

So, I’m sitting here with an ice pack on my lower back and a hot compress on my neck. Oh, and in about 40 minutes I need to go administer my second round of medicated drops to my eyeballs.

Yeah. This week has been glorious! Hashtag IsItOverYetPlease.

Anyway, I’m still working away on the book proposal and determined to finish the whole thing by early November. (Send all well wishes and good writing vibrations my way c/o the internetz, please and thanks.) This means I’m neck-deep in all things books. And earlier this week, I read about this slightly odd/possibly cool new trend in children’s board books: literary classics adapted for toddlers. We’re talking Moby Dick, Romeo & Juliet, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and Anna Karenina … for your book-nibbling two-year-old.

Listen, I’m a huge proponent of early intros to reading for kids. I’ve been reading to my son since he was in my belly, and now, at 4.5 years old, we read three books together every single night. And I’ve read and agree with all the studies showing the benefits of reading to and with your children.

But Moby Dick, though? Many full-grown adults haven’t even conquered that one.

Seems a little twee, if not excessive to adapt heavy and often complicated stories for the under-3 crew. However, publishers behind the kiddie classics series assure that they are not about to unfold the knotted plots and complex characters in these stories, but instead use them as a “springboard to explain counting, colors or the concept of opposites.”


I don’t know, I’m still not totally convinced. I mean, the cover art looks cute, especially the needle-felt figures on the Cozy Classics, but Huckleberry Finn for an 18-month-old? Yeah, let me have a look at that book first.

What do you think? Cute or little bit extra?

Sound off below! I’ve got two fun books to giveaway, so two lucky MMM readers can walk away with either:

1. Big Book of Why: Crazy, Cool & OutrageousFull of more than 1,000 fascinating facts, the book answers the many questions these young’uns like to ask and ask and ask and ask, like, “Why do I have nightmares?” “Why are oceans blue?” and “Why do people cry when they cut onions?”


The Artist’s Way for Parents: An older friend and mentor recommended  Julia Cameron’s bestseller, The Artist’s Way, ages ago when I was trying to make some decisions about next steps in my media career. It was a total gift for me back then, and I in turn recommended it to other friends who were finding their creative way. Now Cameron’s added another book to her collection, this one focusing on parents and their children from birth to age twelve.

  • 1

    No need to enter me in the giveaway — I have just started the book I won a few weeks ago! But thank you for the links to the NYT piece…I had missed it earlier.

    Good luck with feeling better!

  • 2

    Is there really a need to adapt the books for that age? It seems like there are so many books already in existence, so there is no need to alter those classic books. There’s nothing stopping a parent from reading the original classic to their child anyway.

  • 3
    Nailah Robinson says:

    Hmm. I’m torn. In one way, it isn’t much different from making animated Disney versions. Also, it is nice to have gentle intros for younger students and struggling readers. On the other hand, is it really necessary? There are so many other great age-appropriate stories for them to read. Secondly, I was impressed by a friend who actually read classic novels to her toddlers. They turned out super smart with wide vocabularies. Since then I have adopted that habit for my little people — but only the books I actually like, of course. I’m not sure that any of the books mentioned would be on that list.