February 16, 2019

M. J. Maddox, PhD
is the American English Doctor.
 
Subscribe

.

A Troubling Children’s Book

My five-year-old grand-daughter loves anything to do with princesses; the way she identifies a princess is by her long dress. She picked up a book at the library the other day that had a little girl in a long dress on the cover. However, the girl in the dress was not a princess, but a bride.

The book is called How to Get Married by Me, the Bride by Sally Lloyd-Jones and Sue Heap. It’s published by Random House, 2009.

According to the listing at Amazon, the book is intended for 4-8 year olds. The product description and various reviews call the book “hilarious,” “witty,” “charming,” and the like. I find it a bit disturbing.

The main character is a little girl playing make-believe, but what is a child to make of the assurance that

You can marry your best friend
or your teacher
or your pet
or your daddy.
(And sometimes you can marry a flower.)

Or

Usually, you’re not allowed to marry
lots of people at once.
Except sometimes you are.

The little girl mentions various behaviors that would repel a marriage partner:

being mean
being selfish
picking one’s nose in public
pinching
not bathing
eating bugs

The places mentioned as being appropriate for having a wedding are:

a big white tent
a palace
up a tree
in the middle of the stairs
your playroom

The little girl is shown walking down the “aisle,” but the phrase “And you walk down the aisle” is explained as meaning

you must go extra slowly
down a long path
and not fall over.

Not everyone gets married in a church, but it does seem strange not to include a church as a possible location for a wedding, and the word aisle does not mean “a long path.” An aisle is a division of a church, or at least, by extension, a passage between rows of pews, seats, or the like.

I feel that children’s books can appeal to a child’s sense of fun without promoting misunderstanding. And I don’t think that little girls of 5-8 need to learn to equate mere civilized behavior with finding a marriage partner.

2 comments to A Troubling Children’s Book

  • Hmmm, I agree with you. These comments, though perhaps comical to adults and perhaps to some children, send the wrong message. I have no objection to humor, but when it distorts the main idea of marriage, it is out of place.

  • Good article, Maeve. I dislike the glamorization also and as a grandparent can see that these images and stories have an effect on young girls. My 5-year-old is already thinking about how these things work.

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>