When my husband is out of town, my kindergarten daughter and I do something that we don’t tell Daddy about: we read Junie B. Jones books.
A present from Grandma, these slim chapter books are about an incorrigible, spunky kindergartener (she enters first grade in later books) who’s always exasperating the adults around with her hare-brained ideas and her irreverent attitude. Things always turn out alright for her in the end, though. She’s not unlike Beverly Cleary’s classic Ramona Quimby character—except Junie uses bad grammar and PG words like “stupid,” “fat,” and “hate.”
And therein lies the conflict. Most kindergarteners are still shaky on correct grammar, and although I fortunately don’t hear salty language come of out my daughter’s mouth very often, I don’t think she’s shocked to hear words like “stupid.” Author Barbara Park writes like kids talk (or at least how a slightly naughtier version of themselves might talk), and I think that’s why kids love her books. But my husband feels like they provide a bad example, and one she might imitate if we keep reading. I hear what he’s saying so lately I find myself editing as I read to avoid the naughty words and bad grammar. I won’t be able to do that forever, though, since she’s in the early stages of learning to read. And then we’ll really need to figure out what to do about Junie B.
We’re not alone in being unsure of what to make of Junie B. Check out the amazon.com user ratings of her first box set; the 1-star ratings and 5-star ratings are neck and neck. Do you read this series with your children? Do you love them or loathe them?