I love vintage picture books! Love them so much, but an experience with an out-dated story book taught me something. Let me tell you about the time that I learned something about story books of old.
I wanted (and still want) my sons to read from the canon of children's literature. There are so many classics that I wanted to be in my sons' wheel house, from picture books like Madeline and anything by Maurice Sendak to chapter books like the Anne of Green Gables series and many others. I purchased a copy of Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories. It looked very kid-friendly with beautiful water color illustrations and short little stories teaching lessons like fables with animal characters. No red flags anywhere until we started reading together. The first story about a naughty elephant was rife with details that frankly I just wasn't cool with. The elephant gets spanked excessively throughout the story, and there were a lot of colonial-mindset derogatory descriptions about people from India. Not the experience I was expecting.
What I learned that day was the importance of pre-screening older books before I give them to my kids. Now I'm not saying that I ban books with anything controversial inside. A lot of times books with material that I find doesn't jive with what we want to teach our kids act as a good conversation starter and teachable moment. For example, an 1950s Little Golden Book that shows a mom and a dad acting out staunch gender roles is a moment to talk about how men and women can do whatever they want today. Dads can stay home. Moms can work. Reading a Little House book where they sing a song about "blackies" (cringe) is a moment to talk about diversity and discrimination.
But wait, didn't you just say you love vintage picture books? What's to love? So much! The window into the past is such a valuable teaching tool for parents and kids. Our modern world is fascinating but complicated. I love the nostalgic simplicity of a vintage Little Golden Book or an old easy reader. Every time I read a vintage picture book, I am reminded to bring some of that same simplicity back into my home.
What do you think? Have you had the same experience with older kid's books?