What children’s books do you hate to read to your kids?

Our guest host today is BeanMommy! She blogs at http://beanmommyandthethreebeans.blogspot.com/. Here’s what she wrote:

Something just made me think about the book “Love You Forever” by Robert Munsch.

I wanted to like it. I really did. The idea was so sweet. The ending was so touching. So many people love it.

But … this is a book where they have a woman drive in the middle of the night — repeatedly — to her adult son’s house with a LADDER strapped to the roof of her car. Then she climbs into his bedroom so she can hold him while he sleeps.


Imagine if this book was written with the genders reversed.

The other children’s book that irritates me, for completely different reasons, is “The Rainbow Fish.” I always refer to it as “The Socialist Fish.” I have never read it to my children, and probably never will.

And I know I’m in the minority, but don’t even get me started on Roald Dahl. Creepy, creepy, creepy … I used to have nightmares about “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” when I was a kid.

What about you? Are there any popular children’s books that you can’t stand? Why not? Do you read them to your kids anyway? Do you let your kids know they annoy you, or put up a good front?

57 comments Add your comment


July 2nd, 2009
7:17 am

Um, NONE. I loved reading to my child. If it wasn’t appropriate, I wouldn’t have read it. But I never had a book I hated reading to her. Matter of fact I have NEVER read a book I hated. Not enough time in my life to do what I hate.

This is a strange topic. But I welcome BeanMommy to our blog.


July 2nd, 2009
7:31 am

My daughter and I had a spat over the Bratz books. I don’t like the imagery of the books. I don’t consider myself to be a total prude, but I think she is too young for those books. She just turned 8 and the characters in the books look too mature (to me) for an 8 year old. I think originally the Bratz were marketed to the teen or tween generation but over time, they started marketing to the younger girls. To answer the questions of the moderator, I did let my daughter know I thought the books were inappropriate and she could not have them. No, we did not read them anyway.

Just curious – why do you refer to Rainbow Fish as Socialist Fish? I almost spit my coffee on my keyboard when I read that.


July 2nd, 2009
7:42 am

I’m with JJ….there are none that I hated. I am a Kindergarten teacher and I couldn’t wait to read all of the books I have collected over the years to Little E. JJ…I nominate you to hijack the blog today!! Why don’t we talk about books we love to read to our kids?


July 2nd, 2009
8:00 am

loved, loved, LOVE—Dr. Seuss…….my all time favortie? “One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish”……mainly because I read it so many times to my little brother………

sweetest moment? When I heard my little brother read the same to his kids, using the same inflections and emphases that I used with him…..

Book i was the tiredest of? Hands down: Bear and Bunny Grow Tomatoes…….a cute spin on the Little Red Hen, but whew……Bunny grates on your nerves after a while…….

new mom

July 2nd, 2009
8:00 am

I can’t say I have any books I ‘hate’ reading to our little one, but there are some I certainly like more then others. My biggest annoyance is when there are inconsistencies that I notice–of course we still read them because our daughter loves books and I love to read to her!
For example, what kind of an idiot does the mother of those five little monkeys have to be to need to call the doctor every time a monkey fell off the bed? And why doesn’t the doctor make sure that no monkey is hurt? Then it ends with HER jumping on the bed…I just sing/read it and smile!


July 2nd, 2009
8:02 am

I HATE Thomas the train….the books are so poorly written and the show makes me twitch. I bought one Thomas book when my youngest was 1 not knowing how annoying and whiny Thomas is. UGH! needless to say we only have one Thomas book but of course my boys love it b/c it is a train book. I keep meaning to throw it out, but they love looking at it so it stays. Interesting topic as there are some really nutty kid books out there!


July 2nd, 2009
8:10 am

This is a great post! Very witty!


July 2nd, 2009
8:12 am

Oh, yes – Socialist Fish. We were given that book and found we didn’t like it either. The message is dumb! So the fish gives away his own scales. Hubby and I would joking end the story with “and then Rainbow fish dies” The messages are: being special is bad; you need to give away your possessions or others will not like you; we all need to be the same to be happy; if someone doesn’t give you what you want, ignore them so they will change their mind. Dumb book!


July 2nd, 2009
8:16 am

I do agree with Rainbow Fish. Bad message.

But I LOVE (and still do to this day) “If You Give A Mouse A Cookie”. Oh the illlustrations in that book are so adorable. I just love it.

Another favorite “I Love you to the Moon and Back”. Big Nutbrown Hare and Little Nutbrown Hair are so cute. I can still pick up that book.

And of course, all Dr. Seuss. I enjoyed reading the books to my child that I grew up with. Her favorite was “One Foot, Two foot”. It was the very first book she read by herself. And I think it was from memory, as we read it SO many times…….

She is now 18 and we still read to each other. Mostly it’s websites, but we still both love to read.


July 2nd, 2009
8:20 am

I have books I have told them no to because I do not see they have value (Bratz). Didn’t hate the book, hated the Bratz.

If you hate Rainbow Fish (and that is another I did not think would bring value to the children so we did not read at home, though they did read it in class at school)…How do you feel about TheGiving Tree? That book and others by Shel Silverstein were/are present in my children’s lives.

new mom

July 2nd, 2009
8:31 am

As much as I really like Sandra Boynton’s books, several make me wonder….

in The Going to Bed Book, why do the animals first take a bath, then ‘go up to exercise’?
in Hippos Go Berserk, the 6 hippos never went home, they were ‘left quite distressed’. So at the end, the one hippo was not really ‘alone once more’.
and in But Not the Hippopotamus, the animals finally include that hippopotamus. Sweet! But then why end with ‘but not the armadillo’?? Didn’t the animals learn a lesson? and that hippo should know what it felt like to be left out, right?

We also LOVE dr. seuss books too. And any book that has the ABCs, shapes, numbers, etc. :)


July 2nd, 2009
9:23 am

I don’t really have any books that I hate..There are lots that I won’t read over and over..I read and the girl wants me to read her my books, some parts of them I will, then she will ask questions..I agree about the Thomas books, horrible..The boy has all of the Thomas trains and other stuff, but as you said, the books are not written well at all..

My office is closed tomorrow, so hope all have a wonderful, safe, happy 4th..


July 2nd, 2009
9:23 am

I don’t care for Junie B. Jones books. I also don’t like the one about the lady who swallowed a fly. THat could be the title, I don’t know. My son checked it out at the school library. He brought it home and we read it. I didn’t know the lady died at the end. The book just seemed a bit morbid for a kindergartener.

Book Lover

July 2nd, 2009
9:31 am

The Thomas books were written by a British clergyman and were published in the 1940’s – early 1970’s. Sometimes the cultural differences make the writing difficult to appreciate and literary merit hard for some to recognize.


July 2nd, 2009
9:57 am

I don’t know that that is really what is wrong with the Thomas books…Because as BShepC said, the tv shows are just as bad..Thomas is super whiny..When I ask the boy did what he learned from watching the show, he said nothing except that Thomas complains about everything…When a six year old tells you that, you know something is not quiet right..


July 2nd, 2009
10:37 am

I agree completely about “Love You Forever.” We were given the book as a gift (I am positive the giver had not read it). My husband and I thought it creepy, full of unhealthy parent-child dynamics. Of course, we decide this in the midst of the first and only reading with our son.

This is the only book this book-loving family has ever thrown away.

As to the Thomas books, I think some posters are referring to the recent commercialized books that support the Thomas industry. Those are pretty bad. The original stories are sweet…there is a collection of the originals that are a favorite gift purchase for children who are into trains.


July 2nd, 2009
10:38 am

I love books. Best part of the day was snuggling on the bed to share a story. I finally had to limit the number of books because we’d be there for hours reading! I love Goodnight Moon…not because of the amazing plot, but just the simplicity of the story. We’d add our own words and details. As a teacher, I always ask my students who was read to as a little kid. I am usually very saddened by the answer. The very best thing you can do for your child is create a lifelong love of books. The reading time with my kids is a precious memory; I remember those days fondly and wouldn’t trade them for anything!


July 2nd, 2009
10:48 am

Hahaha! My MIL gave us “Love You Forever”. Hmm… I think she’d like the idea of driving to see her son (MY hubby!) in the middle of the night! I’ve never realized this until now… haha!


July 2nd, 2009
11:06 am

I hate the Cat in the Hat. This Cat comes over to these two kids house, completely uninvited, and totally f***s it up. With his minions Thing 1 and Thing 2, they pretty much destroy the place with no regard to personal property. On every page the kids just stand there in disbelief, mouths agape. In the end the Cat ends up cleaning up the joint, I guess because he figures he’ll go to jail for such reckless and unprovoked behavior. I guess Dr. Seuss was finishing up the book and said “What sounds better as a sequel: The Cat in the Hat Comes Back? or The Cat in the Hat Charged with Domestic Attack?”

And these two small kids small kids are left alone with no supervision? Or maybe the fish is supposed to be the babysitter, but I don’t think that’s going to fly with DFACS.

KoolAid House

July 2nd, 2009
11:14 am

I so loved reading to my daughter everynight. She loved The Addy stories and anything by Dr. Seuss. However, the one book I did enjoy reading over and over and over again was Go Dog, Go! When we got to the page w/all the dogs in the bed together I always had her spot something different. I was stunned that she never noticed the one dog that was sleeping while all others were acting a fool. HAAAAAAAA, those were the day!


July 2nd, 2009
11:33 am

As a child, I HATED Dr. Seuss. The books were mostly boring and repetitive (one fish, two fist) and the illustrations were weird. I never read Dr. S to my children, but my grandson LOVES Horton Hears A Who!


July 2nd, 2009
11:37 am

Most admit, The Cat in The Hat (the movie) got on my last nerve. The book did too, but not as much as the movie.

Off topic, but I think one of the best children animated movies from back in the day was The Fox and the Hound. The animation was fab and the message was excellent.


July 2nd, 2009
11:39 am

All I remember from reading “Love you Forever” as a child was the feeling of overwhelming love of a parent for a child. Every time my mom read it to me she would tear up and then tell me she would love me forever. She had just lost her father and I think she wanted me to know that she loved me always, no matter what I grew up to be. I certainly don’t remember thinking it was weird that the mom goes over the house with a ladder. Children think differently than adults, and what you perceive is not what they necessarily perceive. Also, on The Rainbow Fish, I have never read it, but what is so wrong with sharing yourself with everyone else? Do we really need material possessions? If a book promotes sharing and not being obsessive over our “things”, how is that bad?


July 2nd, 2009
11:42 am

OK, newmom, “But Not The Hippopotamus” isn’t about the animals leaving the hippo out, it’s about the fact that the hippo is afraid to ever join in anything and just watches from afar. In the end the hippo FINALLY joins the fun and the other animals are so happy! I think it’s hilarious that it ends with “but not the armadillo”. There are always going to be watchers who don’t join in, but it’s much more fun if you do! That’s the message I get from that book.

I MUST find this “Rainbow Fish”. You all have my curiousity piqued here! And “Love You Forever” sounds GROSS. Sorry, but the idea of crawling into my grown son’s room to “snuggle” (as much as I adore snuggling with him now” gives me the willies!

We have an enormous library of children’s books and it’s my favorite thing to do with my kids (read). I’m proud that my 3 year old is a book nut and I hope I am as successful with the baby. I have to say that I find the Richard Scarry “Cars and Trucks and Things That Go” and most of his other books tedious. My son loves them, but I usually tell him those are “Daddy” books that Daddy will read to him because for whatever reason, they DRIVE ME NUTS!!!! “Please and Thank You Book” does the same thing. I love “The Missing Piece” by Shel Silverstein, but I kind of have a problem with the message I get from it -that finding your perfect missing piece that makes you whole also really messes you up. I get the fact that YES, we are and should be ok on our own, but I like the idea of him finding his missing piece and that they work together beautifully. Anyway -the romantic in me I suppose! I do love the fact that when I sing the missing piece song from the book that now my son goes around singing it on his own :-)

“Old Turtle” makes me cry, but it’s a beautiful message and book, so we read it often. I haven’t had the guts yet to read “The Velveteen Rabbit” with the oldest, but it makes me bawl as well, so it’s coming.

We LOVE Dr. Seuss of course and Sandra Boynton and anything with lots of trucks and machinery. We’ve always enjoyed the Thomas books .They may not be the best on the market, but they excited my son about books early on because of his love of Thomas the Train.

We’re REALLY into pirate books now. “The Day I Became A Pirate” is loads of fun! And my 3 year old is SOOO into “Where the Wild Things Are” it makes me happy.

3 that we read over and over and over last year that he loved and I highly recommend are “Is Your Mama a Llama?”, “The Gingerbread Baby”, and “The Mitten”. The last two are beautifully illustrated as well.

Also, Santa brought the (then 2 year old) a Mary Englebreit book of classic children’s tales, and he LOVES it. A few have been sanitized, which I’m not crazy about, but he loves “The Three Little Pigs”, “Jack and The Beanstalk” (we’re on our 6th month of having to read this at the end of EVERY night), “Puss in Boots” and lots of others in there. Little Golden books, even though some are dated, have also been a big hit, and so is “Little Pea”.



July 2nd, 2009
12:09 pm

I’m with you on “The Communist Fish” — I bought the book when it first came out, read it once, and promptly “lost” it afterwards. The idea that people will only like you if you buy them off grated on my very last nerve!


July 2nd, 2009
12:22 pm

I don’t recall any that I disliked hearing as a child, and I have no children so nothing current. I did LOVE “Little Yip Yip and his Bark”. I think it was in a Little Golden collection.


July 2nd, 2009
12:32 pm

Rikki Tikki Tavi It’s mesmerizing so they love it but I never fail to have nightmares afterward.


July 2nd, 2009
12:43 pm

My MIL gave us Love You Forever, too! And I dislike it so much. The part that gets me is when the old mother says “You better come see me, because I’m old and sick.” Talk about motivation by guilt! Definitely weird dynamics. And Socialist Fish. Hahahah!

We have so many books that are favorites…I really love No Matter What. To me it’s a much sweeter story about unconditional love. The book with Nutbrown Hare is a good one.


July 2nd, 2009
12:44 pm

I’ve never really liked Good Night Moon. I’m not a big Margaret Wise Brown fan (her Sailor Dog story is very odd). I guess I just thought the illustrations in GNM were kinda lame.

I also have always tried to avoid reading Fox in Socks aloud.

We love the original Thomas books and the original videos. The newer stories are a bit lame. The originals have a depth of vocabulary that we all really enjoyed.

Other favs are the Tacky the Penguin books by Helen Lester, Sheep in a Shop by Margot Shaw, Click Clack Moo, Cows that Type by Doreen Cronin. My kids also like wordless books like Tuesday by David Weisner. I think the Sandra Boynton books are a hoot. (although I always questioned taking a bath and Then exercising)

As far as ‘I Love you Forever’, I never really thought it was creepy or odd. The message is my love for you will never go away. I think the physical act of driving over and rocking (not cuddling) the son to sleep is just supposed to represent the concept that a parent always wants to be able to express the love they have for their child and that the love never goes away. In the end, the son returns the expression of love by rocking his dying mom to sleep. Then the cycle starts again when the son rocks his new baby to sleep. I think kids can get the imagery and the message sometimes better than adults.

On another note, I am excited that our youngest finally crossed the line to reading on his own.


July 2nd, 2009
12:44 pm

My girls’ favorite book right now is The Fourteen Bears in Summer and Winter.” They want it read to them every night, to pick out their favorite bears (and mommy’s favorite when she was little). Plus they can finish most of the sentences now with me. It is an older book but republished recently so new fans can enjoy it. Its message (though I didn’t know this as a child) is that everyone lives differently – all the houses look different and their interests are different, but family is important. It is a beautifully illustrated book as well. My son loves “Green Eggs and Ham” and they all love “The Very Hungry Caterpillar;” with its recent anniversary, there are stuffed caterpillars and other items available that are fun to play with as they learn the story. Happy Reading!


July 2nd, 2009
1:14 pm

“Cars and Trucks and Things that Go” by Richard Scarry is the longest bedtime book on the planet. And heaven help us if we tried to skip a page, with both our son and our daughter. Of course, they also had to find Goldbug on every page, even after the thousandth reading. It was my favorite as a child too, so I guess that is sweet revenge for my parents.


July 2nd, 2009
1:27 pm

penguinmom…we love Tacky and all the Doreen Cronin books as well. Little E loves Maisy and anything written by David Shannon (Duck on a Bike cracks us up!) We also love all of Eric Carle’s books and Pat Hutchins’ books.

Little E has been a book lover since she could sit up by herself and turn the pages. I vividly remember the day when she was almost 18 months old and “read” Pat the Bunny to herself (and by reading I mean telling herself the story by looking at the pages…important pre-reading skill). I stood in the doorway of her room and cried when I witnessed that. As a Kindergarten teacher that made me so proud!! Just last night, she “read” me Bumpety Bump by Pat Hutchins. I get such a kick out of hearing her tell the stories.

Has anyone read the Walter the Farting dog series? The first time I read those (alone in the bookstore…not appropriate for Litte E yet) I laughed so hard I cried and almost peed my pants! I think they are the funniest books ever written!!


July 2nd, 2009
1:29 pm

“Also, on The Rainbow Fish, I have never read it, but what is so wrong with sharing yourself with everyone else? ”

Sharing yourself with others. Being forced to is a what I object to. If you are born with something different(wealth for most) you should not be forced to share or cast out of the group.

not a good topic

July 2nd, 2009
1:32 pm

this blog needs someone to change the subject


July 2nd, 2009
1:56 pm

Although it’s not compelling literature, to me anyway, Good Night, Moon will always hold a special place in my heart. It was the first book that my son let me read “in order” instead of just flipping around like he had wanted to do before. I took this to mean that he had gotten the concept of plot order for the first time. Another memory I have of this book is of my son bringing the Spanish version to my mother for her to read to him when she was visiting. She doesn’t speak Spanish, so that was pretty amusing!

As far as books I don’t like to read to him, I can’t think of any off the top of my head. I know there were some I got tired of reading 4,000 times, so I’d suggest something else.

At the present time, he reads some things on his own and I read some things to him. I started doing this about 6 months ago and read him The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. I think many kids are intelectually ready for more advanced storylines before they’re ready to read them independently. I figure that combining things this way may keep him interested in reading going forward.


July 2nd, 2009
2:09 pm

Kathy, Eric Carle books are great. ‘The DoorBell Rang’ by Pat Hutchins is one of my favorites. Great book for incorporating math skills as well.


July 2nd, 2009
2:23 pm

OK moment for Mommy bragging: I have read to my children since they were infants….My eldest has scored Exceeds Expectations on Reading CRCTs every year.

Reading is fun and mental…..or is that fundemental?


July 2nd, 2009
2:23 pm

Yes penguinmom….LOVE the Doorbell Rang! I used to read that to my Kindergarteners and use it in a math lesson.

We also love anything by Mo Willems and Ian Falconer’s Olivia.


July 2nd, 2009
2:25 pm

I think some of the parents out there are “reading” too much into some of these books. Keep in mind that they are written for children, not adults. “I love you Forever” is a sweet story about the mom’s love for her son. It is also about how the love comes full circle when the son must now be the caretaker for his mom. “The Rainbow Fish” is about sharing and the pictures are beautiful. Don’t make it out to be more than that. Sometimes the books children enjoy are not to our liking, but the good thing is that they are learning to love reading!


July 2nd, 2009
2:35 pm

I love reading to our son and one of the best books we have ever received is “Skippy John Jones”. Great writing and fun for our son to hear.

new mom

July 2nd, 2009
2:53 pm

Hmmm, it’s funny that I never looked at that Hippopotamus in the sense that he might be shy, I just saw him being left out of everything–and not till the very end was he was invited to ‘come join the lot of us’! But now I feel better about it, I’ll try to spin it as a ‘you don’t need to be shy’ kind of book, thanks JATL! :)

I love reading with our daughter, and especially now–I love to catch her reading her books to her stuffed animals. She will sit them up next to her, then read the pages, get down in their faces and talk to them, make sure they can see the book….it’s so cute!

Anyone read Goodnight Gorilla? It’s so funny, I like it much better then Goodnight Moon. The illustrations are so cute, it’s fun to find what each animal is doing in each page. Our daughter loves it. I give it two thumbs up.


July 2nd, 2009
3:00 pm

I don’t hate any books, but I do think Eric Carle is over rated. We are beyond his books at this point anyway.

I think the message in the Rainbow Fish is pretty consistent with the message in the New Testament of the Bible. I wonder if the people who dislike the message there, also dislike the same message.

The Octopus tells the rainbow fish that he should give away his possessions to find happiness.

“Sell your possessions and give to the poor” Luke 12

As far as that being Socialism because its forced and not chosen, you might reference the New Testament again. In particular Acts 4.

“32All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. 33With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. 34There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.”

But you say, “Thats not forced!” Consult Acts 5 to find out what happened when someone didn’t adhere to the rules of the commune.

Even the hero of the New Testament himself would have admonished Rainbow Fish for not giving his scales away when first asked.

“30Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.”

Luke 6:30


July 2nd, 2009
4:12 pm

pd, you left out a couple:

Put no trust in extortion; set no vain hopes on robbery; if riches increase, set not your heart on them. —Psalm 62:10. The other gang-fishies flat out said, “If you don’t give us your cool scales, you can’t be in our gang.”

And let’s not forget the classic admonition: Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.–Exodus 20:17 , which the other fishies certainly didn’t think applied to them!

Jesse's Girl

July 2nd, 2009
4:17 pm

I love Olivia the Pig!!!!!


July 2nd, 2009
4:23 pm

DB, I clearly wrote that the book is consistent with the principals espoused in the NEW TESTAMENT.

By the way, I don’t necessarily think that its wrong to associate The Rainbow Fish with Socialism. I just think that Socialism, The Rainbow Fish, and The New Testament share a lot of the same meaning.

Jesse's Girl

July 2nd, 2009
5:12 pm

Very interesting comments PD….its been a while since we have seen Rainbow Fish. Its on HBO where we live and that is not typically a channel the kids frequent. However, when our oldest had surgery, we watched in the hospital. Its similarities to everything you mentioned did not occur to me at the time….as it was on more for distraction and noise than anything else.


July 2nd, 2009
5:36 pm

totally agree on Love You Forever…hate that book. LOVE every other single book by Robert Munsch. If that is the only RM book others read they are missing a huge, huge part of children’s lit in their and their kids’ lives because this Canadian is a prolific author, despite Love you Forever. Hate it.

He is an adoptive father and many of his books’ protagonists reflect the look of interracial adoption families. When I was teaching 2nd grade these were always my kids’ favorites. They are great fun to read with lots of repetition. His books include: Paper Bag Princess, Mermel, Mermel, Mermel, Fire Station, I Have to Go!, David’s Father, Thomas’ Snowsuit, Stephanie’s Ponytail, Angela’s Airplane, Pigs, Somthing Good, Mortimer, Mud Puddle. I could go on and on….Check one out if you can.


July 2nd, 2009
8:20 pm

I’m not sure about the theme of Love You Forever being a gift from the mother-in-law (as ours was), but I’m glad to know that I am not the only one who found the book a little strange. Nice general message, but I did not love the book. Also hated to read Thomas stories. Always loved Goodnight Moon and the Boynton books. Mine are a little older now and are really enjoying the Iris and Walter series of books. Very sweet.

Zachs Mom

July 2nd, 2009
9:23 pm

I can still recite GOOD NIGHT MOON and my son is now 14! The pookey Little Puppy was my #1.


July 2nd, 2009
10:14 pm

pd – sorry, but if you get to quote your favorite bits of the Bible, I get to throw mine in there, too, Old or New! Or is there something wrong with the Old Testament? Granted, I get a little impatient with the stonings and dietary restrictions and the “begats”, but it’s got some great stories :-)