My dad loves to take grandkids to bookstores, and going to Borders with Carter was one of three things he wanted to do when he and my mom came to visit for Thanksgiving. (The Creamery for a root beer float and The Counter for a burger were the others.)
Usually, Carter heads straight for the airplane books, but this time (for the first time) he never got past the toys, games, and sticker books in front of the children’s book section. And I have to admit that I was embarrassed that it was licensed characters—Dora, the Super Why team, Up movie characters—that attracted his attention. (At least, Charlie Brown and Olivia debuted on the printed page.)
It’s not that I don’t like these characters. Dora is a positive Hispanic female role model, and the Super Why TV show is getting Carter excited about learning to reading skills. But I feel guilty that my child can so easily recognize so many TV and movie characters. It feels like a mark of poor parenting, which I compound by buying licensed products. I don’t like how so much stuff is marketed successfully to kids, yet I’d rather my child read licensed books than no books. And he likes them.
In the end, Carter had Grandpa get him a Super Why ABC Letter game and an Up sticker book—and, thankfully, to redeem me: an airplane sticker book. Before bed tonight, Carter, Jeff, and I played the game. The first question posed to Carter: What rhymes with “hill” and “drill”? The moment when he answered “daffodil” somehow made it ok that I had succumbed to the PBS marketing muscle.