Wednesday, February 10, 2010

My Twaddle Problem

Yes I admit, I have a twaddle problem. (Is it just me, or does that word sound like it should mean something less than wholesome?)

Until recently, I had no idea what twaddle was. But it would seem that my twaddle problem has been with me for my entire life. And now it is bleeding over into the lives of my children. Perhaps it is genetic. I have never liked documentaries. High brow literature either bored me or went over my head. And I was completely shocked when in the seventh grade I experienced live classical music during a field trip and fell madly in love with Mozart (but that may have been because of the movie "Amadeus" though I did manage to make it through an extremely dull biography). I had high hopes that my children would rise above me but they seem just as bored with the documentaries I've tried to gently force upon them. Part of me is thrilled when I don't have to sit through it of course!

I admit also that I'm so foolish that I'm not even sure I know how to spot twaddle. Perhaps I have the definition all wrong.

When investigating Charlotte Mason in hopes of not appearing completely stupid when I attend a friend's upcoming in-home Charolotte Mason seminar, I came across some lists of twaddle free literature for children. I was dismayed to see that we had barely read any of these books. How humiliating. I say this only slightly sarcastically. As I've said here before, I generally have the kids just run up and down the aisles at the library, grabbing whatever suits their fancy. While I like this approach and to a certain extent we will continue with it, I have to wonder if we might not be better off with more intentional selections.

I made a list and together with my sweet librarian friend, we picked some "non-twaddle" books off the shelves. I made the comment to her that I may get them home and say, "Well, what's so great about these books" and she agreed.

So far we have read a Curious George book, The Story of Ferdinand and The Snowy Day. There are a few on the list that we might have read at some point in the past. I really liked The Story of Ferdinand and The Snowy Day. I am excited to see what treasures are hidden in these others books we have borrowed from our library! Still not sure about trading in our low brow television shows in exchange for something a little more "edumacational" but time will tell I suppose!


  1. You know I'm a kiddie lit snob, so seeing this post totally got me excited. :)

    I have always planned ahead our library selections (based on various book lists and reviews, books he's asked to get again, and subjects in which he's shown interest) and usually have them sitting on the hold shelf waiting for us. But I also let G pick from the shelves if he wants. Through this practice he has already learned that you can't judge a book by it's cover. Rarely does he ask us to read random stuff he's pulled off the shelves more than once, but the good-quality books get read over and over.

    Also, FYI, all Curious George books are not created equal; in fact, most of them are not actually written by H.A. Rey, the original author. Here are a few of G's favorites that are:
    Curious George Takes a Job,
    Curious George Goes to the Hospital,
    Curious George Flies a Kite.

    Nobody wants to watch documentaries if they are not interested in the subject matter--especially little kids. Charlotte Mason was of course before the time of television and documentaries, but I suspect she would use them sparingly and only if they were engaging. I bet she would also probably show short segments and spread an hour-long show out over the course of a week.

  2. I think Charlotte Mason was a bit of a snob about books, frankly. I'm a literature professor, so I am all in favor of high-quality literature, but I also think that with children, lots of exposure to print and stories should be the primary goal. Yes, add some great books to your reading list, but don't stop reading the books your children love, and don't feel or tell them that there is something wrong with liking the kind of art you like. Check out Jim Trelease's Read Aloud Handbook for affirmation; he is a big believer in what some people call trashy series books for kids because kids love them!

  3. Fanny, I'll have to check that out. After reading some of these so-called nontwaddle books, I wasn't always impressed. I very much like a lot of the books we read and they are not on the list of accepted books. So, I'm hoping to just broaden our horizons. Like with the music study and art study... I want to do it but maybe not the same way that CM would have done it. Classical is great but there are a ton of great types of music out there. Why limit our "study" to just classical?


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