Does Moby Dick Come in Bath Book?

I'm a book snob.

Bookstores depress me, all of the faux-fur-jacketed crap on the shelves, discounted 20%. Bestsellers. I do not buy or even browse a book that has pink on its cover (anywhere) or a martini glass or a high-heel or a handbag or a leopard print coat, or a clothes hanger or a city-skyline or a cat with a sequined collar or a crown or jewelry or a convertible BMW with a headscarf blowing in the wind and the Hollywood sign/Eiffel tower/Empire State Building/leaning tower of Pisa in the background. You can judge a book by it's cover, these days. You really can.

Yes! Finally a book about women in towels daydreaming of cosmopolitans and high-heeled shoes and single beach-chairs on secluded beaches and red roses behind suited-men's backs!

That being said I'm a total and utter hypocrite having made my publishing debut (and name) in the most disrespected-by-the-publishing-world-book-series. Period. If you ever want to get the stink-eye from Lawrence Ferlinghetti, tell him that you are a contributing author of Chicken Soup For The Teenage Soul and a bunch of other Chicken Soup(y) Books. Tell him you are reading from Teen Soul on Tough Stuff your very profound and award-winning story, "I Kiss Like a Horse" on the Etc stage at 3:00 and watch him convulse with disrepect. And then ask him to sign A Coney Island of the Mind, which he will do before muttering, "I hope you're aspiring for more..." then handing book back with a forced smile.

And I am. I promise. I'm working, Larry. I'm working, and sometimes even I'm embarrassed to be seen with myself.

Being a voracious reader and a bit of a connoisseur of words and language, I started early with Archer, reading my belly some of my favorite works of poetry, trying to introduce him to the rhythm of words and melody of prose.

When he was born, we already had a great collection of children's books. Board book and non and a several bath books as well. I read to him before bedtime as a newborn, as an infant, and a toddler. He could care less.

I felt like a total failure, especially when browsing bookstores to see children Archer's age reading with their parents, sitting quietly in their warm laps, tracing their little fingers over the pictures, listening. When I tried to do the same, Archer sweetly tossed whatever it was I was trying to read, clear across the room or hit me in the face with a Caldecott-worthy spine.

My heart was broken. I stopped buying him books. I stopped trying to force-read 'Where the Wild Things Are' and I resigned myself to the fact that the only way Archer would devour a book was by, actually devouring it -- cardboard pages soggy in his mouth.

There have been so many wonderful little books I have wanted to buy him, read to him, cuddle to. For just as adult literature is becoming more of a mass-produced joke, it seems children's books are getting better, more inspired, better written, with more depth on a single, wordless page than any Sophia Kinsella disaster or Sex and the City knock-off. (Except for that Walter the Farting Dog book which is one of the more confusing success stories. Perhaps it would be a better read if something exciting happened like Farting-Dog went to prison?)

Last week in the shower, a miracle occurred-- Archer reached for one of many bath books, crawled over to me, sat in my lap and let me read him the story. And I did. Buck naked, and teary-eyed, I read Archer the "ABC's" book aloud and he *sniff* listened. By God, HE LISTENED!!! Soon after 'ABC'S' we read '123's' and then 'Colors' and then 'Colores' (en espanol) until we had read the entire contents of our bath-library and we were both prunes.

The next day Archer did it again, grabbing this time, "One Fish Two Fish... " And the next day he did the same and the next day and the next..!

Unfortunately storytime is something that has yet to happen on dry-land. I have even tried wiping dry his beloved bath books to read to him on the couch, but No. Only in the shower we can read! Only without my glasses! Only while water is pounding me in the face and getting in my nose!

Perhaps this is just a phase, kind of like the secret-walking and the bitch slapping and the obsession with string-cheese.

Before I had nightmares of Archer crawling to his High School Prom, but now I dream of special-ordering Catcher in the Rye in bath book, so Archer will actually read the thing and be able to pass 9th grade. Hopefully by then he will have graduated to board book at the very least.

Otherwise you can call me Ishmael, because I'll be spending the rest of my days at sea in the bathroom, with Arch, and the alphabet classic, ABC, with shampoo in my eyes, one-shaved leg and a pruned-ass.

Woman over-bored.



Unknown | 1:20 PM

Ha. Love it. Lydia does the same - I had great aspirations of reading to her all of the time - childrens versions of the story of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X and whatnot. Yeah, right. This week, she has let me read to her every night, but she wants to hear Henry's First Haircut over and over again. Hey, I'm just here to go with the flow.

Blog Antagonist | 2:19 PM

The book stuff? Me too. I actively dislike most chick lit and avoid it at all costs, with a few exceptions. Just about every time I have broken this pact with myself, I have regretted it. I did love "Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife". It was complete and utter garbage, but for some reason, I really dug it.

That said...I don't think a love of reading is something you acquire. I think you either have it, or you don't.

I read to my oldest child incessantly, slavishly, determined that he would be a book lover. He's not. I'm slowly getting over it.

With my youngest, I rarely had time to do hours of liesurely reading, because I was busy trying to keep him alive and I had a three year old to deal with as well. But....he LOVES books, LOVES to read.

That doesn't mean we shouldn't encourage, because literacy is really important, but I've had to accept that my oldest will probably never choose to read for enjoyment.

At Archer's age, it's still anybody's guess. Baths are good. Reading is good. I combine the two quite often myself. :?)

Chicky | 2:38 PM

You must read them in the tub
You must read them with your bub
You must read them with the soap

You must read them nude, I hope
You must read them without glasses

With soap in your eyes, with pruny asses

You must read the books, dear Bec
Til your heinies prune, by heck!

Ok, it's not Keats, but I was inspired by Dr Seuss...

Anonymous | 2:42 PM

I'm in!!! WHOOT!!

Oh good lawdy, I couldn't agree more about the pink, polka dots and all things dainty on book covers. My nipples revert back in just thinking about it.

That said, have you read "Love You Forever" by R. Munsch & S. McGraw? To this day, after 6 years of reading, I still can't get through it without crying. And my son, like Archer, did not have the love affair with literature like myself or like my daughter. I suppose I'll still keep him though. He's fabo with numbers, after all, and will probably do a better job balancing the check book than I do.

Jonathon Morgan | 2:51 PM

Books are the only way I can get Little-E to do anything.

Wanna take a bath?
How about I read to you in the bath?

Wanna take a nap?
How about I read you a book to fall asleep?


I just wish I wasn't so freakin' bored of "One Fish, Two Fish". I want a kids book with some sass. Anyone get ideas???


I have read Love you Forever and like you, it always makes me well up, er, did, until Hal created his own version of I love you forever which ends in disaster when the man steals the old lady and takes her to Mexico.

Um, Deanna? That was brilliant!

"You must read them nude, I hope
You must read them without glasses

With soap in your eyes, with pruny asses"

Can this by new theme?


Jill | 2:57 PM

What I found with my boy is that as a baby he liked the boring word books much more than my beloved story books. Now that he's 4, he prefers an encylopedia. This makes me want to poke myself in the eye, but that's what the boy wants. I don't mean to generalize here, but there may be something about the male sex that prefers non-fiction. Try that.

Binky | 3:05 PM

One day when Tolby was about 8 months old, I read her "Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You?" and she laughed hysterically. I was beside myself with glee. However, she has since eschewed all children's lit unless, as you mentioned, she's hungry. So I totally feel your pain. I am so going to try reading to her in the tub, though. Someone else actually suggested that when I was complaining about how Tolby won't be read to, believe it or not. Who knew?

Oh, and Domestic Chicky, I love your Dr. Seuss-inspired comment :)

Chicky | 3:07 PM

Seriously, mama, you have to post Hal's version of "love you forever" - I hate that dang book for giving me one of the most gut-wrenching cries I've ever had-Ok, I was 6 weeks post partum with a baby in the NICU, but STILL!!!


Minnehaha- Ha!! Maybe you're right. It would only make sense for him to prefer my reading the Yellow Pages to him. I mean his favorite toys ARE tampons and water bottles.

J- As far as kids books with some Sass, my favorite all-time kid's book is shown above in my post (If you're afraid of the dark, remember the night rainbow) by: Cooper Edens

Also the Griffin & Sabine Books by Nick Bantock are like adult/kids books, if you don't already own them.

Some of my other faves are:

Outside Over There: Maurice Sendack

Piggies & The Napping House: Audrey Wood

Ooooh and The King Who Rained & A Chocolate Moose for Dinner are fun if you like plays on words (by: Fred Gwynne)

Those were the onese that popped into my head. I'll keep thinking :)

Anonymous | 4:52 PM

I'm sure he'll appreciate reading more as he gets older and being told a story means 5 more minutes before the lights are out at bedtime.

My mom read to my brother and I every night from when I was 5 until I was 10 and chose to read on my own instead. We went through the Little House series and everything Mark Twain wrote that was suitable for kids.

Both of us absolutely adore reading now, and my cousins (who got a similar treatment) are also all fanatical readers.

I'm sure he'll come around! I've heard of parents reading to their children as they play and apparently ignore them, but the kid still enjoys it.

Good luck!

Anonymous | 6:04 PM

I have two girls and the oldest(now 3 1/2) has always loved books and being read to. She couldn't get enough. The younger one tried to eat every book we tried to read to her and now at 19 mo., will finally sit and be read to. The problem now is that when we get to a page she really likes she will NOT let you flip past it. Who thought kids that little could be so strong. Well, I figure it is progress at least.

Jaelithe | 7:38 PM

My mother was an English professor (and I am using the past tense not because she died or anything, but because several years ago she ran away to live on a farm instead). My sister and I both started reading before the age of 3. Which she approved of and thought was only natural.

My brother, being one of those kids who could never sit still for longer than 30 seconds, didn't care for books at all as a small child, and didn't learn to read until he was six or seven.

Which made my mother cry.

But now he likes books just as much as the rest of us do, and is reading above his grade level.

Which just goes to show you, you can't judge a kid's future literary tastes by his babyhood interest in Goodnight Moon.

Anonymous | 7:59 PM

Tamoons are great toys. George loves em too. Tampons and Q-tips, albiet Q tips are maybe a little less safe... um.

Anyway, I have been instructed by King Aidan of Aidan world to inform you that thanks to your nudging, he's posted.

(Thanks for visiting his site)

Kristen | 8:03 PM

I'm so glad you said you avoid pink books...I do that, too, but never admitted it. (I don't know why!)

I just love Archer's little quirks. Maybe it's because my oldest is so inherently quirky that I'm biased...but I think it's just that Archer is so obviously his own little person. I love that.

JChevais | 7:01 AM

I am a reading machine. Love it.

I won't buy chick lit, but I'll borrow it. I have so much commuting time that sometimes, at the end of the day, I can't handle anything but "candy". There is something about the return home that is especially mind numbing...

I wanted to get my kids hooked on reading from an early age by reading to them until I got fed up with the tomfoolery between them. It was just getting them too riled up to sleep.

My son reads now, so is quite content to hunker down with a book and my daughter (learning to read) loves to pour over books and try to figure them out.

I think this is a learn by example thing. I'm always reading and they want to see what the fuss is about.

jdg | 7:03 AM

I wanted to do a post like this for the longest time where I pointed out that all the hullabaloo about reading to children who don't give a damn is so pointless and asinine but I was afraid that all the reading nazis who read to their children in the freakin womb would hunt me down and confiscate my entire library. kids will want to listen once they get to a certain age. that is all. and thank you.

Anonymous | 8:36 AM

Just found your blog, and had to read this whole long post - and I loved it, sooo funny! Thank you for sharing and good luck with the water proof library thing you've got goin over there! :-)

Christina | 9:03 AM

I'm with you on avoiding most of the chick-lit out there. The only fiction I tend to read now are the old classics. Give me a worn copy of Brave New World or Crime and Punishment over any of those pink fluffy books any day.

Although, your story of reading to Archer in the bath makes me wonder if my husband got his start reading that way, too? The man will grab a novel and take a long hot bath and finish half the novel before he comes out.

Anonymous | 10:14 AM

Me, too, Rebecca. Me, too.

Namito | 10:42 AM

I am SO out of the loop on current lit. Looks like that may be a good thing. My bookshelves overfloweth anyways with books I've bought for that moment when I'll finally be able to read them.

But Murakami waits on the shelves while the Impling keeps me busy. Believe me, board books are their own little hell. If I have to read Sheep in a Jeep one more time...

PunditMom | 11:04 AM

Give him time! He will eventually see your love of books and be influenced by that. I remember reading somewhere that it's not so much the reading to our kids that influences them as readers, but seeing their parents reading and having books in the house ... ???

Rachel is now 6 1/2, and while she isn't actually reading chapter books, she loves to carry them around -- she loves the idea of them, so there is hope!

Jaelithe, I thought not reading until 6 or 7 years old was pretty much the norm? (I don't count celebrity children who say their kids have read the whole Harry Potter series by the age of 5!)

Her Bad Mother | 11:29 AM

So you're saying that there really is a need for my board book version of Itsy Bitsy UberMensch?

Kacey | 12:03 PM

I am a compulsive reader and my husband would rather poke his eyes out than sit and read. With that said, my girls (2 & 3) both love to "read" books and look at the pictures, as well as be read to. I have always tried to provide them with lots of choices, but it seems that when they find a few they love, they stick with those and nothing else. I've probably read Chicka Chicka Boom Boom 500 times and Who Stole the Cookie from the Cookie jar is a huge favorite right now. Thank goodness that Tater (3) is in preschool now and brings home Scholastic book order forms. Hopefully they will find something new to fall in love with. I am fortunate, however, that I don't have to do "Mommy stole the cookie..." while naked in the tub! That could have a huge impact on my self confidence.

metro mama | 12:09 PM

I'm a book snob too.

I have a post on poetry for kids coming soon!

ms blue | 2:57 PM

My husband has cut me off from buying more children's books because I am seriously addicted.

I love that my three year old has many memorized and can't wait for my little one to follow. Right now she only wants to eat them.

I sure Archer is choosing the shower to be his preferred reading location so that he swindle a big, boy bed.

Cristina | 10:41 PM

" shaved leg and a pruned-ass." Ha!!

So glad that Archer is reaching for books now! I'm sure the pruned ass is worth it.

Little Guy is starting to get more interesting in actually "reading" books instead of eating them too. But for some reason he only wants me to read to him from the Catholic Baby's First Bible. I'm like, dude, can't we at least read a little Mothergoose rhymes or something, but oh no, it's gotta be the children's bible. Every time.


Archer used to do the same. (HATED BATHS) We haven't taken a bath in a while because showers are such a hit. Perhaps the water in his face? We started doing showers with him a few months ago. I would try and see. He hated it the first few times and then he loved it so, eh, who knows, right? :)

BabyonBored | 5:21 PM

Awww...I totally relate. Elby wouldn't listen to a word but she loved the act of having me read. She'd just turn the pages really quickly like a madwoman or just try to eat the book. Finally she too started to settle down and listen. But, really, she likes to hear the same book over and over and point out the things she recognizes. They'll like the stories soon enough. For now, it's the Richard Scarry Word Book every night.

Anonymous | 10:09 AM

I've always liked you, but now that I know you hate Sophie Kinsella too - well, I think I'm in love.

scarbie doll | 7:00 PM

Yeah, the sitting and patiently reading thing only started around 18 months for us. Unfortunately, it means I have to read a lot of books about trucks. WTF? But one new classic that I've got him into and that I think you will like (or I will eat the book on YouTube) is Helen Cooper's Tatty Ratty. The illustrations are the shiznit. Check it.