It’s not like I suggested it, he begged me. I mean, I told both my boys we needed to get their summer reading lists in order, but he picked the title, “Diary of a Wimpy Kid.” He said he really wanted to read the series and start with book one.
I told Jackson, age six, that I wasn’t sure it was appropriate (the words and situations). The book is really for 8 to 12 year olds and there are a lot of mildly offensive words such as, jerk, stupid, dumb, dork, heck, shoot, freak, and butt. Even milder expressions, like stinky poo, screw loose, and suck it up, are also in black and white.
Not quite sure what to do, we headed to the book store. The entire time I was thinking, once he gets inside and starts shopping, he’ll find something else.
We arrive. Of course, the first thing he says to the young lady behind the desk, “Do you have ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid?” Okay, now I have to deal with it. He proudly follows the lady to the shelf and she hands it to him. Once he’s gripped it, a great big smile appears on his face. He tells me he’s ready, he’s got it and let’s go. Likely trying to get me out of there before I could come up with another excuse not to get it. But I do…
I tell Jackson to sit down and read me the first page. I figure maybe it will be too tough to get through and that the comprehension might not be there. Not the case. The kid got through the first page and was able to tell me what it all meant. I did have to help him with the word SPECIFICALLY, but that was it.
How do you say no to a kid who really, really, really wants to read something, even if he’s a bit young for it? I couldn’t. I decided to talk to him about the use of what he calls the S word (stupid) and all the others, as those are not words he will be using. He agreed. He laughed and said he couldn’t believe he was really reading words like’jerk and dumb.’ It was as if he was getting away with something. Secretly for me: cutest thing ever.
Reading along with Jackson and explaining to him what “cooties” are really isn’t all that bad after all. Yeah, he’s six, but he can handle it. Maybe in some ways reading those “bad” words will become a way for him to better understand how hurtful they are at a younger age, guiding him to have a deeper sense of empathy.