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Old 05-05-2011, 08:44 PM   #1
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Kid's books and grammar

I found out here on MR that Amazon has "Hailey Twitch Is Not a Snitch" as a free ebook today.

Very nice, always looking for free kid's books for my second-grader, and this is aimed at readers in grades 2-4, it says.

So I start reading to see what's what. In the first few pages, I find:

“Me and you will be partners.”

And then:

"Then Miss Stephanie says that me and Addie Jokobeck will be doing the country of France."

And then two different characters:

“Only me and Antonio say it like this—Meh-i-co. I might even take a trip there with him.”
“Me and Hailey say France like France,” Addie says.

Now, OK, the characters are grade school kids, and grade schoolers aren't always spot on with grammar.
But it's not like the rest of the narrative is filled with grade school grammar and idiom. It's mostly clear, standard English.

Isn't one of the reasons -- one of the MAIN reasons -- we encourage kids to read to improve their language skills?

Sure we want to stimulate their imaginations, and teach them story form, and have them learn life lessons from the plot, and blah blah blah.

But would it have seriously damaged the story somehow to have the kids say "You and I," "Antonio and I, " "Hailey and I..."?

Is any one with me here?

ApK

Last edited by ApK; 05-05-2011 at 08:47 PM.
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Old 05-05-2011, 09:03 PM   #2
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Let me guess: does the main character dislike school? Or just generally think that lots of things are "dumb?" Or dislikes authority? It seems that there is a kind of genre of books like this. I just read one to my daughter, it was called "Mr Hynde is Out of His Mind." I don't even know where we got this book. I read her the whole book and she thought parts of it were funny, but some things I censored (such as the main character calling a good student a "brown noser"--there's an idiom I don't want to explain to my six-year-old!). There was some bad grammar too. Junie B. Jones also has bad grammar, and I can remember correcting the grammar as I read it aloud. I think maybe these kind of books are good for kids who don't like school or don't like reading (I'm all for anything that gets kids reading), but my daughter loves school and she loves reading. We discussed the main character's bad attitude and how she and I don't feel that way about things. I think this book is quietly going in the garbage soon.

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Old 05-05-2011, 09:38 PM   #3
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That reminds me of "Horrid Henry," another book I found out about here, and that is, IIRC, some sort of award winner.

I could not see the point. It wasn't a grammar issue in that case, but it was just a story about a kid behaving badly. No moral, no lesson. no other point to the stories that I could discern. A friend looked at it, and his opinion was that it was fairly harmless, and some kinds are entertained by that sort of stuff.
My son read it, and, I was happy to hear, he didn't like it and didn't want to read any more in the series.
So I guess, for the purposes of this thread, I'm more concerned about about grammar element.
If the story IS good, and the kids DO want to read it, why must the authors of children's books spoon poor grammar into impressionable, sponge-like little brains?
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Old 05-05-2011, 11:07 PM   #4
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You're quoting dialog, though. Dialog should reflect how kids actually speak, not how they should speak.

Now, if the character who's speaking is the teacher, then the substandard grammar would be a problem.
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Old 05-06-2011, 08:41 AM   #5
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You're quoting dialog, though. Dialog should reflect how kids actually speak, not how they should speak.

Now, if the character who's speaking is the teacher, then the substandard grammar would be a problem.
If this were an adult book I'd agree with you. In a children's book, I want to teach my child proper grammar. She can't make the distinction between using different grammar in dialog or the story.
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Old 05-06-2011, 09:00 AM   #6
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I agree with queentess, but even if the author is striving for realism, MY second-grader uses the correct grammar most of the time already, and I've heard more than one of his public-school classmates use correct grammar, too, so why feature the incorrect examples?
I understand if you are featuring non-standard language as significant point of character, a la Huck Finn, but why do it if your characters are 'every-kids' that the young reader is supposed to identify with?
Also, I want to make it clear that I'm just using this particular book as the example that got me to start this thread, I don't mean to single it out. For all I know, on the next page, the teacher corrects all the kid's grammar.
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Old 05-06-2011, 09:44 AM   #7
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Also, I want to make it clear that I'm just using this particular book as the example that got me to start this thread, I don't mean to single it out. For all I know, on the next page, the teacher corrects all the kid's grammar.
Which could be a good way to start a conversation about using proper grammar Help your child verbally correct the dialog ("Now Suzy, what do you think is wrong with this sentence?") But then you run down the slippery slope of having a child who will go around correcting everyone's grammar
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Old 05-06-2011, 09:49 AM   #8
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Which could be a good way to start a conversation about using proper grammar Help your child verbally correct the dialog ("Now Suzy, what do you think is wrong with this sentence?") But then you run down the slippery slope of having a child who will go around correcting everyone's grammar
Indeed, there is usually a 'teachable moment' to be found if you want one...but still....
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Old 05-06-2011, 11:57 AM   #9
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If this were an adult book I'd agree with you. In a children's book, I want to teach my child proper grammar. She can't make the distinction between using different grammar in dialog or the story.
But the way a character speaks is one of the ways the author defines and differentiates each character. Children and adults speak differently, educated and uneducated people speak differently. Why try to homogenize characters?
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Old 05-06-2011, 11:59 AM   #10
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If we're talking about bad grammar, should it not be "kids' books"?
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Old 05-06-2011, 01:09 PM   #11
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I don't like it when people in books talk dead proper like that. Don't matter if they is kids or not, nobody in that there real world talks like that.

“Please, Mother, may I have a confectionary treat for my friend and I?”

“Giz us a scoff for me and me mate, Mam.”
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Old 05-06-2011, 01:31 PM   #12
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I don't like it when people in books talk dead proper like that. Don't matter if they is kids or not, nobody in that there real world talks like that.

“Please, Mother, may I have a confectionary treat for my friend and I?”

“Giz us a scoff for me and me mate, Mam.”
Romeo & Juliet, the New Orleans "Yat" version:

Juliet: Romeo, Romeo, where y'at, Romeo? Dis your daddy and dem and forget your name. If you can't do that, dawlin, I'll change mine.

Romeo: [Aside] Should I keep listening or speak up?

Juliet: It is your name that is the problem, dawlin, and mama's duchess de brabant roses would smell as good by any other.
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Old 05-06-2011, 01:51 PM   #13
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Romeo & Juliet, the New Orleans "Yat" version:

Juliet: Romeo, Romeo, where y'at, Romeo? Dis your daddy and dem and forget your name. If you can't do that, dawlin, I'll change mine.

Romeo: [Aside] Should I keep listening or speak up?

Juliet: It is your name that is the problem, dawlin, and mama's duchess de brabant roses would smell as good by any other.
That's already a vast improvement over the original, but I still prefer this version meself:

http://www.punk77.co.uk/groups/thepunk.htm
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Old 05-06-2011, 02:06 PM   #14
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If we're talking about bad grammar, should it not be "kids' books"?
Had the same thought

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I don't like it when people in books talk dead proper like that. Don't matter if they is kids or not, nobody in that there real world talks like that.

“Please, Mother, may I have a confectionary treat for my friend and I?”

“Giz us a scoff for me and me mate, Mam.”
I hate the dead proper talk too, but there should be a happy medium between slang vs proper. And I'm not sure that having proper grammar for everything except "me vs I" is believable either. Especially when a child is just learning proper grammar.

I have a coworker who says things like, "We was going to" and "I haven't saw him today". I do NOT want my child learning to speak like that.
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Old 05-06-2011, 02:24 PM   #15
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If we're talking about bad grammar, should it not be "kids' books"?
These are books I got for my kid....my kid's books. (hey, worth a shot.)

Quote:
Juliet: Romeo, Romeo, where y'at, Romeo?
Shouldn't that be "Romeo, Romeo, why'd you gotta be Romeo?"

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