Wednesday, May 23, 2007

BOOKS: How to Pander to Today's Modern Toddler

I've only been back a couple of days, but in just a few hours I'm getting on another plane, this time with Rusty and Sam as we head back to Ontario to visit family. I'd be bitter about the five hours of missed reading time due to wrangling a busy two-year-old, but fortunately I had my shot at uninterrupted reading last week, and I know when to step back and be grateful.

No, this flight is going to be all about Sam, and in case you're wondering what to pack in your carry-on for a toddler, I'm here to tell you: whatever works. This is not the place for progressive boy-dolls or wooden puzzles from Europe or whimsical storybooks with gorgeous illustrations, no matter how much you yourself might love them. In-flight entertainment is all about pandering to their most obsessive-compulsive whims. Don't try to fight it.

So you can imagine the scene in the bookstore early today when Rusty and I were trying to pick out new books with which to surprise Sam once we're buckled in. Has a kid's psyche ever been this scrutinized by his or her parents? Well, probably. At any rate, here's what we decided on:

Richard Scarry's What Do People Do All Day?
Some of you may recall my strong sentiments about one of Scarry's other books, Cars and Trucks and Things That Go (aka "Purple Story"). Well, Sam loves Scarry, and I love Sam, which pretty much makes me Scarry's bitch. What can you do?

Where's Waldo? by Martin Handford
To answer my own question, I may not be able to do much, but I can throw a curveball at my short friend. So you like hunting for Goldbug, do you, Sammy? Have you met my pal Waldo? He likes hiding, too. Go on, look for him. I'll be waiting over here.

Dr. Seuss's ABC
This, of course, is pandering to Sam's insatiable desire for all things alphabetical. (Plus, I've been meaning to pick it up for a while.)

At a Construction Site by Don Kilby
For several months now, Sam is going through that important early childhood rite de passage known as "the heavy equipment phase". Much as it shames me (not really) to admit it, I'm totally exploiting his obsession in order to buy (or at least rent) myself a half hour of peace.

And when that half hour is up...

Big Trucks and Diggers in 3D by Mark Blum
What's better than construction machines in two dimensions? Do you even need to ask? This book is published by the good people at Caterpillar. And when Sam gets tired of it, we've got a JCB flier on standby. (You think I'm kidding. Ha.)


pussreboots said...

Dr. Seuss's ABC is currently my daughter's favorite bedtime story.

Mablog said...

Excelent Blog. Congratulations

Anonymous said...

A recommendation for Sam during or after your trip: Five Trucks, by Brian Floca. Five airport vehicles and their functions. Also, Airport and/or Planes, both by Byron Barton.

Anonymous said...

Scarry was our our toddler-traveling guru, but even now, when my little guy is five and starting to read to himself, "What Do People Do all Day" is still magic. He reads it while he relaxes on the potty, which makes for some very long sessions, completely unrelated to the business at hand. It's gotten so we forbid him to pick up the book if he's going before we have to go out somewhere. I'm a little troubled that my son still sits to pee, but I'm sure it's entirely because he sees potty time as quality reading time.

Anonymous said...

Glad you'll get some use out of the JCB flyer... I bragged to daycare about the diggers and such and they dragged all the kids to see - except the park is now all fenced off and smelled like sewers!



Carol Blymire said...

There's a joke in there somewhere about a Sam Jackson movie, Richar Scarry books and a line of dialogue about "what are all these muthaf***in' Lowly Worms doing on my muthaf***in' plane.... but I just can't nail it.

Steph said...

Not such a bad list really. When I was pandering in preparation for a flight I bought every Strawberry Shortcake sticker storybook known to man.

Anonymous said...

What a perfectly timing post - I've been making myself blurry-eyed looking at x-c flights and trying to decide what depart/arrival times would be best for our first flight with our 18 month old. These are great ideas!

it's not flight-tested but I think he would probably let us read could read "Dig, Dig, Diggers" to him for 7 straight hours

Anonymous said...

I can't think of a children's author I enjoyed more as a child OR as an adult reading with a child, than Richard Scarry.

sgazzetti said...

Sam's tastes in literature and my son's are pretty much identical. "WDPDAD?" is just now going into heavy rotation. And there was a time when I thought he'd never outgrow "The Very Hungry Caterpillar". SO thankful that's over, at least until autumn when The Fat One will probably take up the baton.

teachergirl said...

I was so glad they outgrew Richard Scarry, I couldn't see straight. I'll be back to visit soon.

M said...

Books for a long flight: Amazing Aeroplanes, Dazzling Diggers, Terrific Trucks (you get the picture).

They're light, fit into hand luggage and cheap - so can be accidentally left in the airport restroom/under gate-lounge seat without too many (adult) tears.

Kristin said...

Thanks for the suggestions! Helen loves books and I'm always looking for new titles!