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What Do I Read To My 3-Year-Old That Isn’t Just Straight White People?

Raych Krueger

Staff Writer

Raych has so many kids (like, two, but they’re super young, which makes it seem like there are more of them) and this really cuts into her reading time. She’s using her degrees in Early Childhood Education and English Literature to teach the toddler to read to the baby so she can get back to her trashy Victorian sensation novel, or whatever. She’s also teaching her kids to travel and eat broadly, mostly through example (Do As I Do is super important, you guys), and hasn’t gone a year without hopping on a plane since she was a teenager. She recently moved from the Canadian coast to the Canadian prairies, where it gets hella cold, and if not for the internet, she’d surely be dead. Blog: Books I Done Read Twitter: @raychraych

Reading bedtime stories aloud is boring and hard and anyone who tells you different is selling something. Bedtime comes right at the end of the day, when you either have work needs doing which you would like to HAVE AT, or you have some Archer banked up that isn’t going to Netflix itself. But my 3-year-old lovvvves it and it’s good for her brain and doing boring, dumb shit because your kids like it and/or it’s good for them is like 98% of parenting.

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The other 2% is literally just booze.

I asked my librarian about chapter books for a three-year-old because we read The Mouse and the Motorcycle and then I was like, Well I don’t know. And you know what’s harder than reading chapter books out loud? FUCKING FINDING GOOD CHAPTER BOOKS. I’m dying over here.

I read Mary Poppins at my librarian’s recommendation (sooooo British. Such long chapters. So much sarcasms, which three-year-olds understand not at all!) and I bluster-skimmed my way through The Wind and the Willows, which I remembered being whimsical and fun but which was actually LONG and VERY DESCRIPTIVE OF NATURE.

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Ughhhhhhhh so much nature.

It’s so hard to sneak in through that perfect tiny window between sustained plot (because you’re trying to teach a kid’s brain to do a thing, to follow an invisible line over the course of some days) and this chapter is like 30 pages long and says ‘perambulator’ a lot. Charlotte’s Web is the golden mean – some chapters are like ten pages and you get to settle right down deep into the blankets and have a good cuddle, and some chapters are, like, TWO pages and you’re all Wheeeee see you tomorrow kid, bedbugs etc.

The list my librarian gave me was very, like, A Little Princess! Charlie and the Chocolate Factory! Ramona Quimby: Age 8! Other White Kids Doing Things! Even though Charlotte’s Web is populated almost entirely by animals, they are good ole down-home straight white cisgendered animals YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN THEY ARE BASICALLY WHITE PEOPLE BUT ARE ANIMALS.

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Except for the ones that are literally white people.

And we live in a fairly straight, very white prairie town. I want my kids to know things outside their own heads, I want them to understand that this isn’t all there is, that the way they are is EXCELLENT but not the ONLY way to be. But I am dying with these book choices here.

So I’m scouring the internet, and I have like hella search term skills, but I am coming up empty. And I’m finding diverse picture books, and diverse easy readers (those skinny books with like two lines a page), and then suddenly, diverse books for, like, 10-year-olds that deal with Big Scary 10-Year-Old themes. Where is my Charlie and the Chocolate Factory but with Chinese people! Where’s the book where the kid gets up to ultimately harmless shenanigans under the noses of his two moms? Where are my differently-abled protagonists?

Help a sister out. Whatamagonna read to my three-year-old that isn’t too long or too short or to scary or too dull and I GET THAT I AM BEING GOLDILOCKS HERE but please advise.

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