reading American books to my American daughter

In my sudden almost nationalistic quest to ensure that my daughter is culturally American, I am making her pretend she is in a town hall session and then scream things like, “This is not the America I grew up in!” and “The public option means death panels!”

Or not.

But I have had second thoughts on my approach to something far more serious than health care reform – bedtime stories. I have been groovily multicultural so far. We read some Dr. Seuss, we read some book in three languages about a Somali village, I translate a Swedish book. The books about Somali villages and Islamic art get old, to be honest, though I keep plugging away because the libraries are full of them.

But the Swedish books are good, for Sweden has this rich tradition of really cool children’s literature. And we have barely approached the limitless Astrid Lindgren catalog in any real way yet.

Here in Sweden you got Benny the pig, Boo and Baa, Knock Knock, and the immortal Alfons Åberg, five, six and then seven years old, just to name a few favorites.

Just as a funny note, Alfons Åberg becomes Alfie Atkins in English and Willi Wiberg in German and Ifan Bifan in, of all things, Welsh. Benny, on the other hand, seems to remain forever Benny, though it is hard to beat a name like Ifan Bifan.

Anyway, now I do not want to read about Benny, though Benny and his adventures with Little Oink are hilarious.  No, I want my daughter to be reading American books for American kids.

So I did a search on Amazon (the American one) and found both the current bestsellers and the classic bestsellers.

Dr. Seuss. Check.   Got him.

Sandra Boyton. Check. Got plenty of her.

Eric Carle.  Check.

Richard Scarry.  Check.

Goodnight Moon, The Mitten, Pat the Bunny, Olivia.  Check, check, check, check.

Nursery rhymes.  Oh, please, three times over.  And they are all English, as in from England, anyway (when did you last see a muffin man coming down your lane?)  Same with Beatrix Potter.

I even found Peek-a Who? on the used book table at my job.  Turns out it is a best seller of the past decade.

And then I realized the problem.  We read too much, 5, 10, 15 books at night.  We read on the train.  We read new books immediately, over and over and over.  She reads to herself out loud in her own language, though she then says she can not read English out loud, only Swedish.

So I got no worries it seems.  I did order some more Dr. Seuss from the library, as well as Where the Wild Things Are, since she can probably handle that now.

But the pressure is off.  Now I can save this blog entry, check on my sleeping daughter, and go curl up with “Oink, Oink Benny” and “Benny’s Had Enough!” and laugh a little.

Good stuff.

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3 thoughts on “reading American books to my American daughter

  1. Oh, I left off Pete Seeger, and Elizabeth Mitchell (Little Bird is my favorite, and then You are my Sunshine).

  2. Awesome.

    Now you have to start on kid music.

    Let me suggest Ralph Covert/ Ralph’s World “Under the Sea”, Laurie Berkner’s
    “Whadya Think of That”, and Raffi’s “Let’s Play” or “Baby Beluga”.

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