priddy interesting

the boys LOVE my little word book by roger priddy. they can sit in front of that book for hours pointing to every picture and have me, dutifully, pronounce what each thing is. and, for the most part, i like this book too. it’s great to say, “where’s the truck?” and have them enthusiastically point to the truck, etc.

but i have noticed some interesting things about this book, especially since it boasts illustrating 300 “essential” first words. first off, there is a whole page dedicated to birds. now, ozzy happens to be a bird fanatic. the kid loves stuffed animal birds, his favorite being “b-b” the yellow and black bird that i don’t even know the technical name for. so i’m all for having a page of birds. but come on now, kookaburra? is this really an essential first word? and macaw? hmmm.

and then, looking closer at the book, i notice some funny things. like the teddy bear is fluorescent pink. the car is a vw (new) bug. the snake is a coral snake, one of the most poisonous snakes you can find. the food page shows jelly beans, oreos, cupcakes, ice cream and a monster sub sandwich. the funniest, though, is the picture of the house and the school. the house is a 1860s gothic revival farmhouse in this picturesque rural setting. the school is a tranquil historic little red schoolhouse, even topped off with the cupola and school bell. while i would love this to be the “typical” house and school that my kids would recognize, i think most of america is a far cry from this. unfortunately my kids will identify more with a suburban ranch and brick or concrete box monstrosity of a school, probably with a dozen portable buildings littering the landscape to accommodate for overcrowding.

so who is this roger priddy anyways? i look around the boys’ bookshelf and notice TONS of their books are by this guy. their “touch and feel” book are by him. their animal books are by him. so i do a “who is roger priddy” search on google and learn that this guy has produced hundreds of books for kids. hundreds. but i couldn’t find anything about him. who he is as a person. what would drive him to include such seemingly strange/interesting things in a book of first words? i guess this is a good reminder to read, with great interest, all the books that my kids look at. and i do, but i never look at them with a good critical eye, like i should. because they spend so much time sitting with their books, just flipping the pages away, pointing to all the different images. and i’m sure these images make real impressions.

so i guess, in a way, i owe a debt of gratitude to mr. priddy. because it will be great if these images, in some small way, influence the boys to think that a car should look like a vw bug (and not a humongous, gas guzzling SUV), that a house can be over one hundred years old, and that a school house doesn’t need to look like a prison. priddy cool, if you ask me. now we just need to work on that food page.

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