Hello Lovelies,

I have been a teacher for over 30 years and in that time I have come across a number of reading schemes and books in the schools I have taught.

One of thereading books first schemes I used was One Two Three And Away, with the imaginatively named characters Roger Red- hat, Billy Blue-hat, Jennifer and Johnny Yellow-hat and Percy Green. Most of the characters had alliterative names apart form Percy who was the troublesome one!  In the early reader books each page had simple repetitive sentences like ‘a red ball’ ‘a red bus’ and finishing with the matching colour character. They were easy for young children to read but also to memorise. Many of my generation would remember these popular books ,but they became dated both in text and illustration. My school added some different schemes. The first was called Gayway which quickly changed it’s name to New Way. This scheme was considered modern with it’s bright illustrations and phonic approach. They had character names that could be easily decoded like Jip the cat, Deb the Rat, Sam the Fox , Meg the Hen and Fat Pig. They were also not politically correct, so whilst ‘Gay’ disappeared from the scheme name, ‘Fat Pig’ changed his name to Pat Pig. His size and character surprisingly didn’t change, because you don’t find a size 8 pig. The words were simple, but sometime poor in choice and the story content limited.

I am currently back in Reception and the main reading scheme is the popular Oxford Reading Tree with Biff, Chip, Kipper and Floppy which children seem to love. We also have other schemes as they work up the different levels. When I first started teaching, books had to be careful with the choice of language in order to not offend, but I have noticed increasingly with our modern world that ‘words’ can be a problem. Particularly, with early reading books.

I am not sure if the naughty minded staff I work with have infiltrated my once innocent thoughts or if my ageing brain has become sadly more aware of smutty and improper innuendos, as I am not naturally a rude person. Some of the basic words in books might be ‘clean’ to children, but can be interpreted so differently by adults. We have even pondered if the writers of such books have a giggle to themselves as they decide on the text and do it deliberately to see if wicked teachers and school workers among us notice! There have been several smirks, sniggers and a few raised eyebrows by both staff and even parents, as they read book titles and simple phrases with children in class. Thankfully, five year olds are oblivious and are totally taken in by the accompanying child friendly illustrations and not the words in isolation. We meanwhile find it increasingly difficult to read certain books and their titles without a series of silent suggestive smiles.

Here are five reading scheme books which could have different connotations if your mind was thinking in an improper way, but rest assured I am always the professional, it just keeps us at work quietly amused!

Book One-Up and Down- Oxford Reading Tree

Up and Down Oxford Reading TreeThe sixteen pages of text revolves mostly around the words ‘up’ and ‘down’. These are perfectly good words, easy to decode for children. On there own they are safe to use. However, try reading aloud with staff listening the phrases ”Mum went up. Dad went down’ followed by ‘mum went down. Dad went up.’ The book finishes with ‘Mum came down. “Stop” she said. ‘ Up and down!’ said dad. Suddenly, in the world of innuendos, these words conjure up a picture of a completely different kind . The minds of staff looking for double meanings raise their eyebrows and the silent suggestive smiles and sniggers begin!  Pages of Up and Down Oxford Reading Tree

The illustrations of course show the children an unoffending and amusing picture of mum and dad shopping and going up and down a shop escalator missing each other. So very innocent and normal. But by adding a couple more words to the text the innuendo would suddenly disappear. ‘Mum went up the escalator’ might be tricky for children to read, but ‘mum went up the stairs or steps’ would solve the problem!

Book Two- Help! I !m Wet!- Bug Club from Pearson

Help! I Am WetThe eight pages of text revolve around the words ‘I am wet’.  It has the occasional ‘I am not wet’ and a few ‘Helps!’ to presumably add drama. This was not a book I had ever viewed for double meaning , as I, like the children had been taken in by the rainy illustration on the cover. It wasn’t until a dad came into school to read, that the phrase took on a different connotation. He was reading the titles of several stories to a child who was choosing a book and as he read this particular one out loud without the illustrations to aid the vision, he stopped, raised an eyebrow and smiled causing the student teacher standing next to him to blush! I am not wet pages

This book is obviously appealing to boys with the illustrations of different trucks and cars. They are of course getting wet in the UK’s favourite weather, the rain, whilst other vehicles are under cover and not getting wet! Adding the word ‘in the rain’ would have stopped any improper thoughts and surely if a child can read ‘help’ they can also read ‘rain’!

Book Three-Pussy and the birds PM Library

Pussy and the birdsThe sixteen pages of this simple text revolve around Pussy looking for a bird.

My aunt is always calling our cats “pussy” and it constantly causes much mirth to my sons as what she says can easily be interpreted the wrong way. Her animated greeting of “How’s my little pussy?” causes much hidden giggling, when thankfully her mind is on the cat that has walked into the room. She is of an era where calling a cat “pussy” was a term of endearment. She is innocent and has no idea, so we say nothing.

It would appear that in the modern world ‘pussy’ is no longer an appropriate alternative for the word ‘cat’, so to find a book with pussy in the title again raised the school worker silent suggestive sniggers.pages of Pussy and the birds

The first page is “Pussy is hungry. Pussy is looking for a bird. ” The illustrations of course show that the  bird is of course, the feathered kind and the pussy, a cat. Reading the book aloud and shouting with expression the words “Naughty Pussy!” several times can cause a few raised eyebrows. Replacing ‘pussy’ with the word ‘cat’ would have solved all innuendo issues as ‘naughty cat’ doesn’t quite have the same connotation!

Book Four-The Hungry Little Monkey- Tiddler books  Franklin Watts Publishers

The Hungry Little MonkeyThe title of this book appears safe, appropriate and the bright illustration of a cartoon monkey scratching his head and holding a banana doesn’t lead you to think that anything inside the book could be unsuitable. The twenty one pages of text are based around a monkey who is hungry and can’t wait to have a tasty banana, but he doesn’t know how to open it. The animals in the story attempt to help.

The issue is the banana, the words they use to describe how each animal helps and then the accompanying illustrations!Pages of The Hungry Little Monkey

The book starts with the monkey being hungry, asking for a banana and looking at it. “Bite it!” said Tiger. Of course that did not work. “Peck it!” said Parrot. We then get to the Lion whose eyes and face are a picture as he puts the banana in his mouth. “Suck it !” said Lion. “Squeeze it! ” said Snake. Suddenly, double meaning and inappropriateness starts flagging up! Mummy monkey shows the little monkey how to open the banana by peeling it and he eats it “yum”.

Why a banana and why those descriptions? Solving the innuendo issues would sadly in my mind require the book to be rewritten and probably re illustrated, but it makes us smile and the kids enjoy it!

Book Five- Come & Come in the Grass- Sails Foundation by Heinemann

Come & Come in the Grass- Sails HeinemannPages of ComeThe sixteen pages of each of these books focuses on the high frequency word ‘come’. ‘Come’ is a word used frequently in everyday conversation and is a word that children need to read and spell. Sadly, in our modern world it has become a word with another meaning. One of the reading books has illustrations of a cartoon monkey and his friends in various places and the other has two cartoon dodgy looking men!

Each page of both these books have short sentences like ‘Come to the tree’ or ‘come to the cave’. These sentences are perfectly acceptable, but the phrases that suddenly have a double meaning are when ‘to’ is replaced with ‘in’. Suddenly it is ‘Come in the water’ ‘Come in the rock’ ‘Come in the garden’ ‘Come in the flowers’. Follow these with a ‘Come to the hole’ and even a ‘to’ sentence suddenly sounds inappropriate and the double meaning sirens are on full scale alert!

Thankfully whilst adult minds are aware of innuendos and double meanings children are not. I’m sure they will happily read and enjoy the above books for years to come. I am left wondering did the authors write these books innocently or was it deliberate? I am giving yet another silent suggestive smile. . . I think I know the answer.

Have a good weekend, I’m off to stroke my pussy. (I have three cats you know!)

Honestly Fiona xx

Come in the Flowers

 

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