Friday, July 27, 2007

More Grammar (or lack thereof in Junie B. Jones)

Count me in with those who feel that Junie B. Jones is Talking Trash when author Barbara Parks has her heroine (cheerfully) prattle ungrammatically. I understand that children do not speak in perfect English, and sometimes their errors are cute and amusing but frankly if such glitches are the fabric of your plot Parks has work to do as a writer. How will children ever learn the difference between good and bad grammar if they can't rely on books recommended by teachers and librarians? Not every parent can provide correction at home, and many children learn by reading as well as listening.

Normally I agree with the school of thought that feels any books beloved by children are worth supporting but I must make an exception here. While Ramona Quimby's malapropisms are charming: "Turn on the dawnzer's lee light," for example, this series leaves me cold! There are lots of other books with more likeable characters than the verging-on-obnoxious Junie, and I am sure booksellers (although perhaps not Random House, publisher of this series) and librarians can help these readers find something better!

2 comments:

Ellen G. said...

YES YES YES! I have the same issue with Miss Junie B. I refused to let my daughter read it, but of course once she started going to the library herself, that's all she wanted to read. Thankfully it was a phase and she's over it now. But how it putting books like that into the hands of children at all beneficial?

Library Lady said...

I wrote a piece about this myself this week--titled "Let Junie BE"

I don't like the books either--they make me gag. But both my (fairly grammatical) girls have loved them. And while I'll never ascribe to the "at least they're reading" crew, I will say "well, it's a start".

And some of the Junie haters in the NY Times article were reading them OUT LOUD to kids who are too little to get the jokes or the grammar. If they're dumb enough to pick those for read alouds, they deserve to wince at the books!

You're right, some children will NOT learn proper grammar at home, but that is what (hopefully) schools are there to amend. And I really don't think reading Junie B Jones books alone is going to scar a child's education permanently.
And it MIGHT just get them hooked enough on reading that we can hand them :) "Betsy-Tacy" and other really GOOD books.

And that is beneficial!