Monday, October 3, 2011

An Extremist Word Lover's Take on a Children's Book

Words are priceless and powerful, both spoken and written.  The things we profess and confess, the inflections we use and the structure we choose to organize words with influence everything around us.  Words are used to inspire peace, sacrifice, hate, and war.  Words educate, formulate imagery, stir our emotions, bind us to one another, and segregate us.  Words can be used to build up and to tear down.  I fell in love with the power of words and sentence structure as a child through books. 

Books took me to other lands and cultures, introduced me to new ideas, inspired me to investigate the world around me, increased my vocabulary, and taught me how to relay stories of my own, effectively.  Some of my most valued possessions are my books, dictionaries, encyclopedias, and my eight thesauruses.

My 4 year old nephew has always used correct speech, which is something I am proud of.  He emulates what he hears, as do all children, and since the majority of my family speaks very well, so does he.  He is consistently and gently corrected when he does not speak correctly.  When he tells a story and says, "I rided my bike," an adult, without fail will say, "You rode your bike" to which he responds, "Yes, I rode my bike."  It's a simple teaching process and he responds well to it. 

This past weekend, my little well-spoken nephew kept using the word ain't  and would say no more  instead of any more.  It was an obvious regression in his normal speech and was, for lack of better words, driving me crazy!  After a full day of periodic correction, I finally asked him, "Why are you speaking incorrectly?  Who do you know that says ain't and no more?" 

To my horror, he exclaimed, "It's in my BOOK!"

I Ain't Gonna Paint No More by Karen Beaumont, is a cute, colorful story that lends to learning about colors and rhyming.  However, the cuteness of this book is overshadowed completely by the fact that the book is based on the grossly grammatically incorrect phrase, I Ain't Gonna Paint No More. The phrase is repeated throughout the story.  Rhyming and color comprehension aside, the book is a detriment to children who are in the early years of forming proper speaking skills. I am positive there is another way to tell this story without ingraining improper speech into a child's head.

I do not understand why a children's book that is so blatantly grammatically incorrect would be written and published in the first place!  What were they thinking?  I'm sure it was meant to be light-hearted and many of you probably think I am nuts for feeling so strongly about this.   But I will give you three guesses as to how I feel about that.  If you guessed that I do not care, you are correct. 


  1. I would have to agree with you! We read daily-it's in our curriculum and we read for fun- and the kids read on their own daily as well. If one of them picked up this book at the library, it would be put back immediately. The last thing I need is for a book my children read to ruin all of our hard work in school!

  2. There are a ton of children's books which are probably inappropriate. I've read a few definitely. This one might have been ok, but it is weird that the publisher would allow such obvious grammatical mistakes to be read by impressionable young children.

    Fickle Cattle

  3. Fickle Cattle-- thanks for the comment! By the way, I LOVE your blog.

  4. I am irritated by Lambert's Cafe strictly because their famous phrase is the 'Home of the throwed rolls' What?! Why exactly would a company, or an author celebrate illiteracy?!!