On Christmas, Big made a new friend. He’s one of those friends who makes moms nervous. And one of those friends who makes little boys giggle uncontrollably. I considered ending the friendship. Telling Big that I thought his friend was teaching him words and lessons I didn’t like. That maybe he could be reacquainted with this friend when he got older. Yes, Captain Underpants and his silly adventures could wait.
But then I started seeing things that surprised me. Big couldn’t wait to get to bed each night because that meant we got to read a Captain Underpants book. Soon enough he even wanted to start sounding out the chapter names by himself. He was learning new vocabulary words (not the gross ones—afraid he’d already mastered those), and asking questions to be sure he really understood what was happening in the story. (I have to admit, the books are very well written and have many smart, witty passages.)
After reading a few chapters together, he’d stay up looking at the pictures, and in the morning he’d tell me what was going to happen next in the story. At a playdate, he and his friend started writing their own comic book, but without the potty talk. (“Because we don’t use those kinds of words.”…if only!) He even told me he wants us to write a story together (so far it’s one sentence).
Big has always loved books and stories, but when he started the Captain Underpants series, I saw a light turn on and a passion for reading ignite. And who am I to get in the way of that relationship?
Of course I do my best to keep the nonsense in check. Professor Poopy Pants is not someone we discuss at the dinner table—or even with our friends (except other known Captain Underpants fans). We only talk about the stories while we’re reading them, and Big knows if he starts crossing the line, the books may suddenly disappear. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t test me, but I think he’s getting it. (Little, on the other hand, hasn’t read the books and finds potty talk hysterical and isn’t getting it…I know, it’s a boy thing.)
So for now, I’m choosing to embrace my passionate little reader. To help him grow his love of books, learning and story telling. Instead of rolling my eyes at Harold, George and Captain Underpants, I’m grateful to them for the positive life lessons they’re teaching Big. Hopefully he’ll be onto another series soon, but for now we’re superpower readers—faster than a speeding waistband, more powerful than boxer shorts, and able to leap tall buildings without getting a wedgie.
Are there books you won’t let your kids read? Or books you let them read, but aren’t so sure about?
Oh, boy! Do I share that same love/hate relationship with the “Captain Underpants” series! My boys love them so much and they have inspired my oldest to write his own comic book series focused on heroes named after bodily functions. Sigh…
As much as the potty language makes me cringe, these books are here to stay as my little boys are so inspired by them. Thank goodness we are equally addicted to the Magic Tree House series to balance it out!
I loved hearing about your little comic creator and while I’ve been thinking about this post for a long time, your story inspired me to write it. (I figured Captain Underpants may have been his inspiration.) I think it’s great that the boys are channeling their creative energy into story telling (among other things, of course).
I’ll have to check out the Magic Tree House series…thanks for the tip!
I think it’s great that you and Big have discovered “Captain Underpants.”
To see a 5 year old excited about reading is really wonderful.
Sounds like Big has his Mom’s great sense of humor.
Have to admit that I am very familiar with all of the “JUNIE B. JONES”
books. I LOVED THEM!
Now that you mention it…considering a couple of my favorite movies are National Lampoon’s Vacation and Christmas Vacation, I guess I shouldn’t expect my kids to have an especially sophisticated sense of humor. 🙂
Amy, This was the first book that Jack read to himself and giggled the entire way through! I will never forget hearing him in his room, laughing so hard that he had tears in his eyes and forever loving Dav Pilkey for this gift. Jack went on the read everything ever written by Dav and become an incredible comic writer himself. I truly believe that this series of books gave Jack the joy of reading that hooked him forever. After that, Harry Potter sealed the deal. Enjoy! What a glorious thing to watch unfold before your eyes. 🙂
If they were good enough for Jack, they’re good enough for me. I can only hope my kids grow up to be as kind, creative and talented as him! Now, what was the secret to getting him hooked in the kitchen??
hahaha!! i went to maui with my bff and her family 2 summers ago. her twins had just turned 5. i have a picture of her son with a pair of his undies saying “WEDGIE POWER!”. hilarious! 🙂
That wedgie power is some potent stuff it turns out. Very cute!
I think the hilarity of bodily functions never ends. My 3 year old has quite a vocabulary thanks to his 7 year old brother…not to mention his 45 year old father. Boys!! Any tips on how you conceived that baby girl???? 🙂
We too, LOVE the Majic Treehouse series….we just checked out 14 of them at the library – the reading level goes up as you get higher in the series. Ryan actually chooses to read them over Wii somedays! And there is an amazing learning website that is connected to the books. Best if you read a couple books before you try it with Big so as not to spoil the adventures (but you could check it out!) http://www.magictreehouse.com
Wow, how did I not know about these? We’ll definitely head to the library when I’m back on my feet. Thanks so much!
I remember getting a book from the library teen section when I was about 14. After reading it I told my Mom I was surprised it was allowed for kids or at least in that section. Apparently for the time it was pretty racy (of course that would not be the case today). Why do I remember this so vividly? Because my Mom empowered me to go to the librarian and make my feelings known. Not only did the librarian listen to me, she called me afterwards to let me know they moved the book and several others in that series to the adult section of the library. It was a very empowering moment and the beginning of my taking the opportunity to step outside the box.
it’s funny because I hadn’t gotten a chance to read this post, but saw it briefly and immediately took it as a recommendation of the series… so when I was getting together easter basket goodies – I bought the first book in the series for Finn … then I read your first paragraph and got really concerned…. but as I read on, I realized that Finn is already in the throws of being obsessed with burping/farting humor and I’m looking for something… ANYTHING to get him obsessed and interested in reading. Hopefully, this does the trick ;)!
Ha, I have a feeling Finn will love it. Dav Pilkey also has some more “early reader” types of books. My parents just gave Trevor Dog Breath and it’s pretty funny. More on his reading level. I’m sure there are lots of other gems too!
Captain Underpants has a fan in our house too! Made me smile when the Kiddo chuckled out loud reading the first book in the series. I like how it has comic book style reading strewn throughout it too. Such a fun series for boys learning to read! 🙂
Amy, Using Our Words says
Yes, laughing + reading is a pretty great recipe for success!