My Vow

Book-shaming (v):  To openly judge another reader’s book preferences

I, Dana Murphy, do solemnly swear to not book-shame my daughters.  I will uphold my unwavering belief in reading before bed, no matter which books they choose.  I will not secretly throw away all the Sponge Bob and Dora books when they are not looking.  I promise to not influence their decisions as readers by yawning, sighing, or rolling my eyes.   I will fulfill my parental responsibility of fostering their love of reading.   

When Maddie was around the age of two years old, I made a promise to myself that I would not book-shame her as a reader.  Lately, it has been really hard to keep that promise.

Maddie’s bookshelf overflows with books.  Each night before bed, she flips through the collection, choosing two or three books for us to read together.  Each night, I sit in silence, curiously watching to see which books she will choose.

How, I wonder, could a child’s hand skip over A Sick Day for Amos McGee and Beekle and Where a Sidewalk Ends, only to land on the princess puzzles book again?  Why, I wonder, would a well-read child not want to laugh with Babymouse  or dig another hole with Sam and Dave?  Why, oh why, would this child choose to read about Patrick and crabby patties?  WHY?  What is happening to my daughter?

I don’t ask these questions aloud.  I stifle a yawn.  I let Maddie curl up in my lap, and I open to page one of the stupid princess puzzles book for the third night in a row.  For a second, I contemplate crawling into her darkened room late at night to steal the princess puzzle book.  I imagine myself standing in the garage, tearing that dumb book into shreds, laughing maniacally at my victory.

Then I remember my vow.  I will not book-shame my daughters.  So, I read.  And Maddie, page by page, falls more in love with reading.

8th Annual Slice of Life Story Challenge.  Join at Two Writing Teachers.

8th Annual Slice of Life Story Challenge. Join at Two Writing Teachers.

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27 thoughts on “My Vow

  1. I don’t book-shame my daughter, per se. It’s funny how those kinds of books just magically disappear from our home. I don’t know where they go. They must have feet. 😉

  2. Yes, I have made this pledge as well. And it is so difficult to uphold. That’s why I have at least 100 books checked out from our local library — their choices come and go. Those books that I eye-roll over (Barbie, Strawberry Shortcake, et al) are due back to the library! (So sorry.) In addition, I actually created a shelf on Goodreads called “Girls Pick” – so I can qualify some of the book choices. 🙂 About a year ago I had thought of writing a similar post … I didn’t have the words like you did today. I need to print out the pledge as a continual reminder. 🙂 Thanks.

  3. I bet Dora is cool since she’s a geography buff, but I’ve never checked. Sponge Bob does look silly. I liked Beatrix Potter as a wee child and still have figurines of Peter Rabbit and Timmy Tiptoes (squirrel)!!

  4. I love everything about this. Maybe we need to start a book-shaming support group. 😉 If I have to read about the Barbie ballet one more time I may die a slow and painful literary death.
    I can’t get the image of you sneaking into her room and then standing in the garage destroying the books. lol

  5. Love this post, Dana. Your Maddie is one fortunate little girl. You are teaching her that her choices matter and that she can have opinions about what she likes and doesn’t like. This is a deeper life lesson that tolerates reading princess pink books. Children learn from how we behave. She is growing to love reading and know what is attractive for her in this world. Kudos to you for allowing this to happen, while giving her support and gentle guidance. Her views will broaden. She has a mommy that models this.

  6. I love this, especially as my children are very young and I will be reflecting on this post years from now when my children start picking up “vacation” books of their own. Yes, it will be hard to tolerate when those books come through the door, but I’m just going to have to remind myself that every once in awhile even I have a shamefully shallow book or two on my own nightstand. 🙂

  7. Love this! I am so worried about fostering her love of reading but some of her books need to be thrown into a wood chipper.

  8. I love that you started this post with your pledge. I feel like I should copy this pledge and fill it out on the day my first child is born. My favorite part of this Slice is when you cross out all the words that do not support your pledge. Book shaming is a growing problem these days, and I am happy to see that you are teaching Maddie when she is young.

  9. I love “book shame” – new learning for me. My son always had a 4 or 5 book shelf. The books were on the shelf but sometimes they were deliberately moved to a higher shelf. The one I particularly remember was the “Foot Book”. “Right foot, left foot “. . . . marching on in the Army . . . Now I wonder if he remembers it!?!

  10. Love this. Never having had any children I never had to think about this. The fact that she is falling more in love with reading makes it worthwhile.

  11. I remember reading an Elmo lift the flap book over and over and over to my son. His shelves were full of wonderful literature, but he chose Elmo. Night after night after night. Being a mom is a joy…hopefully she will move on soon.

  12. Oh, this is so true! I’m loving your honesty and in-it-with-me-ness of your posts! Smart mommy, though, focusing on the ends not the means. Your last line is haunting!

  13. I think most parents have a bag tricks, from skipping pages to “can’t find” it. I loved reading to my kids, but there were always those certain books I enjoyed less than others. Great post.

  14. Dana, you are such a better mom than I am! I make books disappear left and right. Those Barbie books she got for Christmas? Gone. The Disney Princess Series she got for her birthday? Disappeared. No idea where they are. Probably donated to some worthy cause. Maybe, just maybe I loaded them into the car and droppped them off at Goodwill. Some other kid somewhere is reading them right now. I am SO GUILTY of book censoring/shaming, but all with good intentions!!!

  15. You are right. This is the vow that many of us take…and so I read Big Bear Gets the Mail 5,000 times….it was awful…but in retrospect it realty was mindless fun.

  16. I love everything about this. Lily’s is a bubble guppies book that she sits and “reads” multiple times on a daily basis. I have thought about making it disappear numerous times. And I’m kicking myself because I’m the one who bought her the darn thing!

  17. I love how you started this Dana…really brought me back to when my kids were younger- my book shames were Bob the Builder and ugh…Teletubbies…thanks for sharing!

  18. I loved this slice, especially tearing it to shreds . It made me think about how many times we need to encourage kids to read
    What they want not what we want them to read.

  19. Such a sweet story. I remember that my mom read me Go Dog Go umpteen times a day. I know I had other books, but I only chose Go Dog Go. I still have cherished memories of that book and my mom and I am over 50. Moms are saints. They selflessly do what needs to be done. Way to be a good mom. 🙂

  20. I, too, have vowed not to book shame my children. I wish I could say it gets easier as they get older. My daughter was into the Candy Fairy books for a while. She would excitedly read me a chapter each night, and I, in turn, would read a couple chapters to her. Tooth decay. This is what went through my mind frequently.

    Keep up the good work!!

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