Daily Archives: January 23, 2009

Generalizing

Roger’s posted on something that bothers him about Mem Fox and Helen Oxenbury’s Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes. I had been completely charmed by the book, but someone even before Roger had noted that not everyone does have ten fingers and ten toes.  There’s a good conversation going on in the comments.  Here’s my contribution:

I like the book, but someone else had already mentioned to me the issue you raise, Roger and it definitely gives me pause. I’ve always been uncomfortable with any sort of instruction/book/lesson/etc that tries to generalize too broadly, no doubt because I don’t fit at all into the niche established for my kind (Jews) and chaff when assumptions are made about me because of the presumptions associated with my cultural heritage. I’d initially seen this book as a way to avoid just such social/cultural/etc generalities and am I’m very glad you pointed out that it isn’t so at all. My feeling is that we who read this or any other book to children always need to do what Nina describes — be very aware of our audience.

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