I’m not married yet and definitely don’t have any kids, but when I do I’m gonna be the best dad ever. I’m already sharpening and expanding my pending offspring’s minds by putting together their childhood library. Check out what I’ve got so far:
This book has been around since 1977 and I really suffered as a child for not having it on my bookshelf. Until I was nine, I thought I was the only one who pooped. It was pretty embarrassing and I always just assumed something was wrong with me, but this book would have cleared things up a lot and saved me unnecessary emotional scarring. Also in this series: The Gas We Pass: The Story of Farts.
When I was two and three, my parents read me multiple bedtime stories almost every night. I still have vivid memories of readings of The Story of Ferdinand, The Story About Ping, A Treeful of Pigs, Go Dog Go, and Goodnight Moon. My mother had (and has) the patience of a saint and would read story after story until I was out cold. As much as I love my kids and want them to grow up to win Pulitzer Prizes and be astronauts, I just don’t have that kind of patience, and will need to draw the line somewhere. So I’m gonna need a good closer in my repertoire, and Go The F***to Sleep obviously fits the bill. I’m currently working on childproofing this book by placing a bunch of stickers with the letter ‘n’ on them over the ‘ck’s. Another bonus of this book: if I don’t feel like reading out loud I can just turn on the audio narration by Samuel L. Jackson for my little darlings as I tuck them in and tune out.
I’m not going to indoctrinate my children with any one political stance, but they’ve got to know how the world works and how to develop critical thinking skills and mindful appreciation of deep, complex political issues. Unfortunately, The Economist doesn’t come in hardcover, plus it doesn’t have enough pictures and is boring. Instead, Russell Jr. and his siblings will be reading this primer on the virtues of big government and soaking the rich. Also by this guy: Why Daddy is a Democrat and Mama Voted for Obama.
And since I want my kids to be well-rounded and understand both sides of an argument, this book is gonna be on the same shelf. Those versed in children’s literature will recognize ‘Katharine DeBrecht’ as a pseudonym used by Ann Coulter. I looked for a suitable book written from a Tea Party perspective, but I think I’d rather just have my kids learn that point of view by having actual tea parties.
Pretty Much Everything by Shel Silverstein, but especially Uncle Shelby’s ABZ Book: A Primer for Tender Young Minds
Shel believed that children ‘should be treated no differently from anyone else.’ (I’m quoting Wikipedia, and so probably not him directly.) Apparently this means you lie to them and convince them to make voodoo dolls and throw raw eggs at the ceiling, like you would naturally do with adults. I’m entrusting the classics like Silverstein (and that master Dr. Seuss) to build my children’s character—to put hair on their chests, if you will.
Another character builder. Everyone knows that millennials have a little bit of an entitlement and inflated self-esteem problem. That’s not gonna fly with my kids. This is required reading for the next Howes generation not because it’s great—it isn’t—but because it’s a double lesson in humility and the inevitability of failure. This book teaches a child, in the language of observational comedy, that crap happens: sometimes your prize roast beef flies off the table during family dinner and gets eaten by dogs, and sometimes you write a book and print a million copies because you’re famous, but nobody buys it and it ends up buried on the shelves of dollar stores everywhere and Howard Stern makes fun of you.
Unfortunately, this piece de resistance of my kids’ ideal bookshelf is on backorder because the first Kickstarter printing sold out. Which is fitting, because it’s going to kickstart the vocabularies, art appreciation, and existential cynicism that my children so desperately need to function in a global society.
Last but not least. I didn’t learn calculus until I was 15 and that is why I’m not a Fortune 500 CEO. Yet. I don’t know who Omi Inouye is, but he or she is a true Tiger Mom or Dad and my kids will be truly indebted to him or her when they become pint-sized math geniuses and can’t relate to their peers. Soon to be published, hopefully: Linear Algebra for Infants, Multivariate Calculus for Toddlers, Differential Equations for Preschoolers, and Fitting in for Kindergartners.