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?