While picking out picture books, I’m slowly but surely learning that the things that grab my attention may or may not grab Ayla’s, and even if they do grab Ayla’s sometimes maybe I shouldn’t be reading them to her quite yet.
The Spider and the Fly by Mary Howitt, illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi, is so cool. Gothic, looks like an old movie, is all black and white, and its just pretty much Edward Gorey style awesome. Ayla even liked the pictures. She flipped through them over and over again. But like Edward Gorey’s ABC book,The Gashlycrumb Tinies, and the ever famous The Old Lady Who Swallowed the Fly (which if you read emphatically so that a child stays interested, it turns very creepy very quickly), there are some stories that should wait until maybe age five or six, instead of 18 months. Or should they? I don’t know. It just seems a little weird to be telling the death tale of a fly by evil spider to my one and a half year old.
Then, there’s books that are simple, like Nosy Rosie by Holly Keller, that are simple: green grass, cute little fox, and a sweet ending. Ayla loved this one too.
How do you decide what to hand them when? On one side, I don’t want to be Phoebe’s grandmother on Friends who turned off all the movies before the unhappy ending and the character didn’t know that Bambi’s mother got shot or that Old Yeller died at the end until her thirties. But neither do I want to be the creepy mother raising her child to disturbing things like “A is for Amy who fell down the stairs,” even though as a teen and adult I find them quite funny.
So again I ask you, how do you decide what to hand them and when? I suppose the age old dilemma for every parent is based in the fear of warping their child, and when it comes to books I have an even bigger problem because its not just about what my child can handle, its the message I give her when I make the decision. I don’t believe in censorship, but I greatly believe in reading guidance.
What are some of your favorite ‘gothic’ picture books? When did you decide to share them with your kids? Or did you let them seek them out themselves?