Apr 9, 2011 - Books, Learning, Parenting, School    6 Comments

You are what you read…

If the saying ‘You are what you read’ is true, and a large part of me firmly believes so, I am seriously worried about the reading books that are being sent home from school; Georgia’s school and I imagine hundreds of other schools around the country.

If I digress a bit, and generalise an awful lot, and very much through an immigrant’s eyes, Britain and the British are well known as a country of ‘moaners’. They admit it themselves, everything and anything is always ‘dark and gloom’.

In fact, I have a lovely lovely sweet neighbour who is a lovely chap except everytime I’ve ever spoken to him, he complains about something, or other, usually the weather, which he has absolutely no control over! Nothing is ever right.

Anyway, back to those dreaded reading books. Georgia’s reading books from school are from the Oxford Reading Tree series. They’ve been around a while, I gather and I suppose in itself, from an educational perspective, they are fairly well written with step-wise developments on words with progressively more words per page.

What I just can’t get over are the stories and how depressingly negative they are! Bif, Chip and Kipper along with Wilf and Wilma, are on the whole pretty interesting characters (well, as interesting as pen-drawn characters can get). But the things they get up to and the conversations they have though are enough to make me want to slit my wrists! (No kidding!)

At The SeasideTake for example, the latest story Georgia brought home. It’s called At the Seaside.

The words of the story go like this:
The family went on holiday. Wilf and Wilma went, too.
The hotel had burned down. ‘Sorry’ said the man.
They looked at a new hotel. ‘Too expensive,’ said Mum.
They looked at an old hotel. ‘No, thank you,’ said Dad.
Every hotel was full. ‘Sorry!’ said everyone.
They had to go home. But the car broke down.
A farmer stopped his tractor. ‘Can I help?’ he said.
The farmer had a bus. ‘You can stay here,’ he said.
‘What a good holiday!’ said Wilf.

Copyrights OUP 1989

At least this book ends in a slightly more positive note, but really, surely it’s not necessary for children to have such a depressingly negative start. I must add, though, even in the books with slightly perkier or funnier stories, they typically end with ‘Oh no!’

Do you think these (infant and primary school) 5-year old’s reading books could have been a significant contributing factor to how ‘negative’ (again, gross generalisation here!) British society has become?

I’m sorry but give me Dr Seuss any day!

© 2011, Li-ling. All rights reserved.


  • That’s truly dreadful! I definitely believe that what we ingest in any form, whether it is through our mouths, our eyes or our ears, is going to affect who we are and how we interact in the world. Not that the occasional junk food treat or depressing story is going to color our whole world grey, but a steady diet of it? Can’t help but have some effect. Does she have to read these kinds of books for very long? Can you balance them with some super bright and uplifting books at home? 🙂

    • Thanks Elena I’m so glad other people think the stories are bad too! I had wanted to write this post about 10 reading books ago but waited hoping they might turn more positive…sadly not the case.
      We do read some really nice positive books and there’s one we particularly love (although a bit too Christian for my taste) it is amazingly positive in it’s lessons. I will blog about it to share….
      I’m really tempted to go in to ask for a change in reading books or suggest that she reads something from home but I’m not sure how well received that might be. Reason being that we practise reading these books as part of the bedtime story routine, filling ones head with such negativity before bed can’t be a good thing! 😉

  • We have the Oxford Reading Tree series too. I had thought that some of the text was negative too, although more often than not our kids just think it’s all a bit of a joke. With this one we actually discussed sarcasm after we read it. I’d rather have Dr Suess as well.

    • Karyn, I’m really glad it’s not just me. I had a discussion with Georgia about whether she would like different reading books and she said No, she likes these because they are so very silly. 🙂

  • My boys’ preschool uses part of the Oxford Reading Tree series, but I don’t like them. I find the content boring actually. Of the ones we have, it’s true there are quite a few ‘oh no!’ examples. I guess the exclamations help to capture kids’ attention as it did with my younger one. While Dr Seuss is funny, I would have preferred the preschools use Peter and Jane which is easier for younger kids to relate to. Then again, some kids find them real boring too!

    • It’s funny that they use it in pre-school, and here it’s in school-proper! 🙂
      We did start off with Peter and Jane too, at home. They can get a bit monotonous but the repetition is really good. I would say though, living here now, the pictures in the Peter and Jane books are very obviously dated 🙂 Dr Seuss appeals on so many levels, and are so hilarious! 🙂 we have so much fun reading them.

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