“The worlds of imagination and knowledge that it will open up for her are endless!!”

Chris said, trying to convince me to teach Ali how to read.

“Once you know how to read, you can teach yourself almost anything!”

I didn’t want to.

She had just turned four, and had rebuffed every effort I’d made thus far to teach her to read.

But being the submissive, agreeable, eager-to-please, nearly perfect-in-every-way wife that I am, I set out to make my husband’s wishes come true.

And, surprisingly enough, Ali must have gotten the memo.  With a little help from a program that got her interested in the idea, she quickly picked up the first concepts, and the idea of being able to read anything got her excited to learn more.

In an effort to help, my Mom pulled out a bunch of old, dusty reading books and gave them to me.

“They’re old, but they’re good – they have different levels, and every word in the book is based around a particular reading concept.”

So Ali and I began to read these books.

And immediately, I saw Chris’ point – there were most definitely worlds of imagination that these books were opening up for her.

First, there was the one where Dad was waxing the car, and then the cat jumped on it…

Okay.  So Dad has a temper.

Then we got to the next page…

“Mommy!!! IS DAD HITTING THE CAT?!?!?”

“No, baby… I’m sure he’s just petting him.”


“I think he’s just wiping his eyes.  Maybe he was cutting onions or something.”

Awesome.  Nightmares from our reading books.

Sam the cat continued his pitiful journey, streaming tears around the block.

But, besides animal beating, Ali learned quite a bit from these old books.

Like, for instance, she learned how quickly you can tan:


And, apparently, change your ethnicity in the process.

Also, she learned that Blue Jays are violent creatures that should be avoided at all costs.


And, just in case Ali needed any more ammunition to fuel her belief that bicycles were dangerous contraptions, there was this story:


Hey – at least Sheldon didn’t CRUSH HIS HAND.

And really, what four year old doesn’t need the lesson of the dangers of fireworks?



Yes, Ali, Fireworks can indeed leave you and your pets in a bloody, mangled mess.


However, touching freshly sharpened axes with your fingertips, this is not dangerous at all!


But there were some useful lessons, too – such as, how to get the cat pee out of your sand box:


And also, something that every kid needs to know – what time Star Trek comes on.


But yes, Chris was right.  With the worlds of imagination these books have opened up for her, she’ll have the emotional fortitude to tackle Stephen King by next week.


33 thoughts on “Worlds of Nightmares.

      1. Not quite true. There’s the one with the moose that lets his friends ride on his antlers. And all his other friends and family abandon him. Then the antler friends refuse to get off even though he is being chased by men with guns. Then his antlers fall off in the nick of time and he is free. And all his previous friends are killed and stuffed. I was scarred for life!!!

        Ali’s books are kind of awesome though. I laughed so hard that I nearly woke Elizabeth. We have an old reader all about the evils of drink. Pretty much everyone dies, but father reforms at the end.

  1. Oh my, those books are out there! You clearly did not have to be an excellent writer a couple decades ago to get a children’s book published!

  2. Jackson BURST into tears five pages into Tom Sawyer!!!! He was weeping – “how could his aunt want to “hang” him!!! He is just a little boy!!!”

    Honestly, I think his little soul is too sensitive to be exposed to the cruel world where Tom lived. Jackson can handle imaginary battles like Pokemon, but for him, to hear stories of human suffering is unbearable!

    So, I bought him an Archie app and let him download and fortune of comic books to read. I think I will let him stick to Pokemon, Star Wars and Archie, etc. His soul is just too sensitive and his imagination too intense.

    Ya know – I think I might write a post about this… I was just talking to Tania on Twitter last night about how I could never let him watch or read Harry Potter. He just couldn’t handle it. But he has been watching Star Wars since he was three.

    1. Ali is the same way – very sensitive. She doesn’t like the feeling of impending crisis at all. Also bizarre to me is how violent and grotesque some Disney movies can be – especially the older ones. Snow White – bring me her heart in a box?!?!? And The Dragon in Sleeping Beauty?? I am SOO thankful for other Disney movies like our favorite, the Tinkerbell series, and Cars that are not violent, do not have to have scary characters, and can just centralize the movie around learning better character, rather than a fear-inducing crisis.

      1. That’s fairy tales for you. My first two (decent sized) books were an illustrated Bible and an original Grimm’s fairy tales. Did you know Cinderella’s ugly sisters get turned into black poodles and fed burning coals every day? And that one of them cut part of her foot off to fit into the shoe but the drops of blood cried out that she wasn’t the right girl? Fun stuff! :) And the Bible isn’t any better with Abraham sacrificing Isaac and the flood killing everyone etc.

        Maybe growing up on a farm helped (i.e. seeing animals die or be butchered etc. and being fine with it) … and I did have a clear idea even at five or so of the difference between a story and reality… Of course I thought the Bible stories were just stories too, but I got over that eventually.

        1. Original fairy tales ARE horrible – I think Ariel’s tongue gets cut off in The Little Mermaid. Craziness. And Ali loves listening to the bible on CD, but we sure had a long conversation after John the Baptist’s head got cut off. Her main concern, though, was that there would be no one to do the baptizing.

  3. Haha…love it! It seems that those books don’t care what they say or the meaning they convey as long as each line rhymes and has 3 letters.

    Go you! That’s awesome that you’re teaching her to read already. :)

  4. Good lord, those books are truly awful. Then again, I learned to read with much more chipper books, but all my drawings were of beautiful princesses under rainbows — falling into pits full of acid and spikes and screaming “help”.

  5. Oh my gosh, those are crazy!! I’m surprised they’re not teaching kids how to help their parents deal with a hangover, or how to hot-wire a car. I love that you’re teaching Ali how to read! What a gift!

  6. I have a few “retro” books too, and I am always a little amused at how politically incorrect they can be. That last picture you posted is just … sad.

  7. Those stories are intense! I wonder what books our children will look back on in horror…? Don’t we all ask our parents, “REALLY?!?!” about a lot of things from our childhood? Haha! :)

  8. Those books are hilarious, I was laughing out loud at some of these!
    My personal favorite is the ethnicity-changing jazz man!
    The summer before I started my first teaching job, Ryan’s uncle (who was a former 6th grade teacher) gave me a box of his old school stuff. There was a class set of books in there that we got a huge laugh about, don’t think I can write what it said, I’ll have to tell you about it in person :)

  9. Oh my goodness, those were hilarious!!

    Do you know when they were published? I’m sure quite the evaluation of the different ages of society could be done by viewing childrens books from each decade.

    1. I think the 70’s – hence the Star Trek reference. And yes!! I think you’re onto something there! This decade would be all about political correctness and the environment, I believe.

  10. HA! That’s awesome- we’ve found similarly non-PC items in my mom’s attic, storage, etc. I can’t imagine what these people were thinking or how morbid they must have been to have all the animal-cruelty included. If PETA was around, I bet they had a cow- no pun intended.

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