Monday, April 16, 2007

Reminded Me Of The Old Days


I have way too much to read stacked up in my own house, but I can't stand leaving a library empty-handed. So the last time I made a run to the library for returns, I picked up some picture books.

I've been hearing about Jamie Lee Curtis's books for years, so when I saw her new one, Is There Really a Human Race?, I snatched it up. I'd heard that Curtis was inspired to write this book when one of her own children asked her if the term "human race" meant that there was some kind of race that humans were running. I like that. I like inspiration coming from every day events and interactions with people.

But I did find this book a little...preachy. Essentially, it's saying don't scramble to get ahead. That's certainly good advice, but that's what the book is all about...advice. I wonder, too, if a small child will understand all of it.

"Do some of us win? Do some of us lose?
Is winning or losing something I choose?
Why am I racing? What am I winning?
Does all of my running keep the world spinning?"

I know adults who would find that too deep.

Believe it or not, I used to teach Sunday school. For eleven years, in fact. (Yeah, yeah, yeah. They were short on warm bodies to prop up at the front of the classrooms.) I began my Sunday school teaching career in the preschool. Each week we'd gather the 3-, 4-, and 5-year-olds together for a fifteen-minute worship service. Instead of a sermon, the worship leader read them a picture book. Not all the picture books she chose were Bible stories or even spiritual. Some of them were just well-intentioned and...instructive.

I can easily imagine Is There Really a Human Race? being read aloud in that setting, with the leader stopping every few pages to ask questions and make sure the kids get the jokes. Being read aloud during a Sunday school story time isn't a bad thing by any means. But it seems like a more natural place for a child to hear Human Race than, say, right after school while snacking on crackers and cheese or while curled up with a parent for a bedtime story.

Of course, instruction may have been Curtis's intention. If you go to The Books section of her website, you'll find that each of her titles is labelled with a topic like "Self Control" or "Moods & Feelings." (The label for Is There Really a Human Race? is "Self Awareness.") A teaching theme may be her interest as a writer.

3 comments:

MotherReader said...

Oh yeah, that's her M.O. Thing is, she is one of the celeb authors that people often want to keep around.

Maybe on any of your library days you can check out three celebrity picture books. I'd particularly "recommend" Madonna's Lotsa de Casha.

Gail Gauthier said...

My very superficial impression of celebrity children's authors is that a lot of them seem to be interested in teaching something with their writing, which, to me, is a very old-fashioned function of children's literature. It would be interesting if someone could figure out why so many of them feel that need.

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