View Full Version : Twaddle

04-17-2015, 07:29 PM
I was reading the blog by the author of Build Your Library and she was talking about not letting her children read "twaddle". She defined twaddle as any book that was a series, poorly written and have predictable endings. She used Magic Tree House books as an example. I think MTH books are great, I don't consider them poorly written. They are grammatically correct and I guess I enjoy predictable endings sometimes. It can be reassuring. I also am pretty much happy as long as my kids are reading. I read babysitter books (not the current ones) when I was a kid and I could finish one in an hour, and I clearly remember one teaching how to speak in pig latin - I thought that was a useful skill. So my question is: do you consider any books "twaddle" and if so which ones.

04-17-2015, 08:00 PM
I can think of several series of elementary grade books as twaddle (defined perfectly well with that BYL definition): The LEGO series (Bionicle comes to mind), and the worse than terrible Minecraft unofficial novels. I physically cringe when DS chooses them to read (at the library). He seems unable to discern the quality difference between them (so badly written they often dont list an author!) and more sensible books by authors like Beverly Cleary, etc.
Yes, he is reading, but.... garbage in, garbage out. :( That said, I will admit here to liking Cheetos Puffs (Cheezy Poofs a la Cartman/South Park). I also really love me some filet mignon and some prime rib. And Im sure there are some nice high-brow vegetables that I like too. (Endives?)

People read trash all the time. Tabloids, gossip papers, faux news, beauty and fashion magazines, romance novels, etc.

MTH - DS read them in 1st or 2nd grade (grama has a set of them). I think they serve a purpose. Twaddle for an 8th grader isnt the same as twaddle for someone still mastering their reading skills.

We can all be snobs about something though, right?

04-17-2015, 08:01 PM
I've been reading a lot of Charlotte Mason lately, and I'm not convinced about twaddle. Kids love reading those high interest stories. It is incredibly motivating for early readers - even to grown adults - to read a series that is not super challenging, educational literature. I simply don't believe that everything our kids read has to be educational. Some can simply be enjoyable.

Would I base an entire unit around Junie B. Jones? Probably not. But I might use it to supplement and he/they could certainly choose it for their own enjoyment. There's something about getting to know a character or characters through a series. Kids identify with them. Many of these books are filled with humor. And honestly, some kids are so resistant to reading that getting them to read anything at all is a triumph.

That's not to say, however, that there is not some incredibly terrible books/stories out there. I had to teach many stories and non-fiction that was written to fit in with a topic and practice a certain skill. Much of it was uninteresting, not challenging, and the kids hated it.

04-17-2015, 08:03 PM
My kids have all loved the Magic Tree House books. While they are not literature masterpieces, they do have some redeeming qualities.

They are easy to read. My kids read them (for the most part) by themselves. That is a very "good thing" IMHO. Actually the format is predictable for a reason, it helps kids start to make predictions on what's going to happen next.

My kids normally read the first 30 or so and they are ready to move on. (They are beyond caring what happens next.)

Edited to add: I used these and books like Nate the Great as "free reading books". We don't base lessons around them. (Well except one of our lessons was about mysteries and it had a Nate the Great as one of our curriculum books.) But if a kid wants to read it....... It is OK.

I personally rely on "cookie cutter" books to help me fall asleep. If I read more interesting books before bed, I won't sleep. (I'll read.) So a nice easy read book helps relax me.

04-17-2015, 08:19 PM
Have you actually been reading CM? I tried, then I tried someone elses take on it, and couldnt really get through it.
Id be interested in reading about an updated application of her principles. :p

(Sorry for thread sidetrack.)

04-17-2015, 08:22 PM
We've read a few Magic Tree House books for a Magic Tree House book club. It's become a bit of a chore, and we really don't like them but we do get to have a nice critique of them.
It probably doesn't help that her interest level is sitting around middle school level. At this point I'm happy she gets excited about any books and we've had our own "book club" going between the two of us. She listens to the audio book, I read the book and we discuss it as we go along. I've read some really great books with interesting stories and then there are some I'm struggling through. When she gets excited though she really wants to talk about it and that's fun.

04-17-2015, 08:27 PM
It's a Charlotte Mason term, and from what I understand, BYL follows the Charlotte Mason method of presenting the very best books to kids, with a modern, secular update. Mason believed that children should have access to the very best literature and lots of exposure to great writing.

Ultimately, it really depends on your approach to reading with your kids. I'm a self-proclaimed literature snob. I would love it if my kids gobbled up 'classics'. But they don't. I do make sure that we are reading high quality books, like Newbery books or other award winning books, for anything school related. They can pretty much choose what they want for free reads.

There's a lot of value in MTH. I really love the historical content. But the stories themselves get pretty predicable and eventually my kids lost interest. They definitely aren't poorly written but they are very simplistic.

I agree that anything product or toy related would probably fall under the category of twaddle.

04-17-2015, 08:37 PM
Have you actually been reading CM? I tried, then I tried someone elses take on it, and couldnt really get through it.
Id be interested in reading about an updated application of her principles. :p

(Sorry for thread sidetrack.)

No not her yet, but getting through the ebook on the simply cm website by Shafer. Also have CM companion coming through the library. I go free first! I might take a look at One of the kindle books, but I'm not sure I'll get that far. There's quite a bit that I don't really feel will fit. Twaddle is an example of that. Overall kind of outdated. And of course I'd have to change up a lot because of the religion. Ho hum. Educate myself and move on to the next.

I did join the CM fb page just to see what people are talking about. I've seen a question - Hey would you consider American Girls books twaddle? No one really seemed to agree, which is also a difficulty when using something from so long ago... A lot of grey area when trying to apply it to life now. But, hey, if you limit your reading to all newbury winners you just might run out of stuff. There are only 93 ;)

Edit: sorry Elizabethk! We were posting at the same time, and the Newbury comment wasn't directed toward you. It just seemed like a lot of people would direct the fb commenter away from American Girl and link a list of Newbury winners or suggest a newbury winner.

04-17-2015, 09:01 PM
I definitely think there are books that are 'twaddle'. I'm not sure I'd include MTH. Although I find them dull to read aloud (and stopped quite quickly), they'd be great for getting a kid into reading, and have good content. I have got pickier about what I'll read to DS but I let him pick out twaddle as long as he reads it to himself. I enjoy plenty of adult twaddle when I'm in the mood ;)

ETA: I think there's definitely a good case to give a kid plenty of exposure to good literature, too, to expand their vocabulary and expose them to interesting ideas.


Accidental Homeschooler
04-17-2015, 09:16 PM
We are in the middle of the newest Penderwick's book and loving it. Magic Tree House books were never a hit here. But dd likes Baby Mouse and Franny K Stein, definitely twaddle ish. I am just happy she wants to pick up something and read it.

04-17-2015, 09:26 PM
Yes, there are books that are twaddle. One that comes to mind for me was a Star Wars picture book that my youngest got from a Scholastic Book Fair. Here is the story, see what you think.

R2D2 and CP3O are out to get some presents for their master's birthday. While they are out, CP3O is kidnapped. R2D2 spends 80% of the book thinking about all the things that they have done together and all of their past adventures. Then, somehow, CP3O is freed (no idea how or who gets him back.) They go to the party with the things they got.

To me, this book is twaddle because it is basically just selling the franchise. There was no story, really....we don't know any details about the rescue that would have made the story somewhat interesting. There was...no real story line. Any kid who had seen any of the movies could have told a better story.

Before this book, I let my kids buy one book every sale. After this book, we no longer bought Star Wars books. I also don't buy Lego or Mindcraft story books. Or books based off of cartoons like GI Joe, or fairies from movies. Or even "updated" Nancy Drew.

However, that said, when we go to the library...the kids can get pretty much what they want. If they want to read twaddle on their own time, they can. If they want to read "Little House on the Prairie" 15 times....they can do that too. I find benefit from time to time reading twaddle myself.....really stupid romances or what have you. It can be relaxing after a stressful week to not have to try hard to get the message of the story. I do try to steer the kids toward better stuff, but sometimes they show me some pretty great stuff too.

04-17-2015, 09:38 PM
DS was lured by the Scholastic book sale twaddle too. And that so describes the Bionicle crap. Whats with that, anyways? Offering overpriced shitty books in a school-like context? That was Kindergarten, maybe enough parents complained, the book fair hasnt been back since.

They got me when I didnt know any better. Just once, though.

04-17-2015, 10:10 PM
Ah, yes. Scholastic Book Fair. Love the premise. Hate the reality.

Twaddle is the book+toy marketing gig etc.

DD loves MTH. She's read practically all of them that have been written. Almost not a day goes by that she doesn't mention some historical or science fact in context that she's gleaned from "Jack and Annie." It's a narrow definition of "twaddle" to apply it to any series that has predictable endings. Someone who doesn't want plot familiarity and a somewhat formulaic approach isn't in MTH's target demographic. The goal is to have kids enjoy reading for pleasure. Familiarity helps build identification with the characters. It draws them in. I'm puzzled that someone who has thought about the subject enough to blog about it would not come to the same conclusion.

04-17-2015, 10:10 PM
I did like the Magic Tree House books. They are great for beginning chapter books. They were just the right level last year for my 3rd grade dyslexic son. It also helped that he was doing a co-op type of class about them. We read them before class, the teacher read them in class and the kids did a craft and discussed the books. She was able to read in less than an hour...but it took my son a lot longer to do it on his own. I will also say, they were just right for my daughter when she was in 1st. My middle, son, hated them because they were not "real." Each book had a story line...much better than that Star Wars book!

04-17-2015, 10:16 PM
I agree that those books are twaddle, but if you have a very early reader who won't pick up a book, but would pick up that Star Wars book and then might start reading because of it... I guess I would say great book. American Girl books got my daughter very interested in native americans and while we were studying native americans she would tell me how Kaya did that or that happened to Kaya, so they were very historically accurate and she was reading. There was a whole NPR piece on the Diary of A Wimpy Kid series and were they essentially twaddle or not. The librarian on it was saying how she would see kids who wouldn't read, but then picked up this series and it was their gateway to lots of better literature. That makes sense to me. But I definitely won't read a so-so book to my kids. Our read alouds are books that I get from various lists of quality books.

04-17-2015, 10:16 PM
MNDad....I will say, now that I have my middle son taking a middle school class....that I like the books offered at the Scholastic Book Fair much better. Still a lot of twaddle....but also some really good books. Right now I have to give my Twaddle award to Usborn. It seems we have already gotten the history and science encyclopedias, and as my kids are 4th grade and up....all that is left is pretty much twaddle. Really predictable story lines that I expect more of for older kids. And so expensive...I try to get them to save the money and go to the library....but it doesn't always happen. Especially as the library doesn't seem to buy Usborn. (I think they realize that especially the older kid books are not as good as other things that are out there.)

04-17-2015, 10:21 PM
We were all posting at the same time. I agree completely MNDad, my DD has mentioned so many things historically and when I ask, where did you learn that it is usually MTH.

04-17-2015, 10:50 PM
I do consider some books twaddle, and MTH would fall under that category for me... an adult. My dd loved MTH. She read every single one when she was seven, so obviously she didn't think they were twaddle. Crap to me, perfection for seven-year old her. I'm fine with that. She can read whatever she wants whenever she wants, and I don't judge.

Scholastic introduced her to Beiber in G1. That pencil-giant eraser combo was the last loonie they got out of me.

04-17-2015, 10:55 PM
I hate book snobs and book police parents. If the kid wants to read and something is holding their attention....don't screw that up by being discouraging...sheesh! The last thing you want to do....is make reading a contest of wills. That is one mountain you do NOT want to die on.

Twaddle, Classics and everything in between....each person's house has many rooms:) Embrace it all. Hell, if the kid is reading the oat meal box....be happy!

Sometimes you want chicken cordon bleu....sometimes you want chicken nuggets. Everything in moderation. Including moderation. LOL.

Proper parents hate Captain Underpants. I fecking LOVED Captain Underpants. Laughed my butt off at it.

04-17-2015, 11:08 PM
Well at least we all agree on Scholastic. :)

MTH was boring to me, but so were BOB books. It has its purpose. I had DS read all the MTHs, he seemed to enjoy them.

Probably a lot more enjoyable than if I had tried to force WTM *classics* down his throat. Macbeth, Descartes, and Dantes Inferno in second grade? Yes, that will truly build a love of literature!

All snarkiness aside, if *twaddle* is a gateway genre to enjoying reading, who really cares?


04-17-2015, 11:20 PM
Don't know that I would have said it with quite the same flair, but I do agree with CrazyMom.
My older son read early and without any struggle. He dutifully read MTH books because I was told (by other hs moms) that was the usual next step in his reading progression. Yeah I thought they were crap. He read the first 3 only. He got bored then we went through all kinds of other twaddle.....what else is there for kids that age to read? I didn't expect him to read Shakespeare yet. I suppose we could have tried reading tool directories, instruction manuals, the phone book? Now that I think of it, the biggest leap he had in his reading was at 6....the players guide to XBOX Halo. He would read and give tips while his dad was playing. I know, I know......
At that age, for us anyway, the good stuff was being read aloud to them.

04-18-2015, 12:12 AM
Part of discerning what makes a book good....is experiencing when a book is bad. LOL.

Kids love the pop-culture on the cover....but they know enough about what makes books good....to notice when they're bored out of their minds.

They have that Ah Ha! moment of discovering....Ya know..."My Little Pony: Rainbow Drizzle Makes a Friend at the Mall" does NOT feel as good on a rainy day....as Charlotte's Web or Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing.

It doesn't hold your interest the same way. You don't care about the characters the same way. It doesn't make you feel the same way. It doesn't make you laugh out loud. It doesn't make you stay up at night, reading.

And that's the really brilliant part.....because at that point the kid thinks about both books and wonders why? Why did THAT book draw me in so completely, and this other book felt shallow and boring?

And if they're really clever...they actually notice differences in writing styles, in story development. They start to identify what makes a good book...a good book. And what makes a weak book weak.

And if they're freaking geniuses....they'll go...Hmmmmmmm, how do I make my writing more like this one....and less like this other one?

There is SO MUCH that kids can learn....from twaddle. (which is a word that sounds weirdly like duck pornography to me)

Purely from an educational compare and contrast position....I think we should make a point to keep some around:)

04-18-2015, 06:35 AM
I completely agree. Let 'em read.

Last night I was thinking about the original definition. It's just so outdated. There are so many books that would fall outside of "twaddle" that just didn't exist when CM decided that series with predictable endings is twaddle. Entire genres have appeared to motivate children to read.

Consider Magic School Bus. It's maybe the science equivalent of MTH with a ton of information and vocabulary packed into what is essentially a comic book: kids go on a field trip, have an adventure, return safely to school. These types of books are written to deliver factual information in a fun and entertaining way. To grab attention and interest. Is it a fine work of literature? Ha no. Does it spark DS's interest in science with memorable adventures and fill him with knowledge that he may not retain from a dry non-fiction text? Absolutely!

04-18-2015, 07:06 AM
DD was into MTH around age 4 or so. Those were our nightly read-alouds, and we got through about 40 or so before she suddenly lost interest. Yes, they were predictable, but the historical framework and adventure, and the fact that Annie was such a smart girl (main! character!) made me happy. In fact, I was pretty disappointed that we stopped reading them!

I agree that pop culture books (like the Star Wars example) are usually pretty rotten. I suspect twaddle is totally subjective. Around the time MTH was losing steam for DD, she was into the Rainbow Fairies series. We read at least 30 of those things - talk about twaddle. And yet, while they had the exact same plot every time, similar to MTH, I would choose MTH all day long. Reading the Rainbow books made me want to shoot myself.

Overall, I totally agree that whatever will get them to read and read frequently is ok in my book. But what I BUY for her to read is not necessarily the same as what I'll let her get from the library...

04-18-2015, 10:00 AM
There are so many books that would fall outside of "twaddle" that just didn't exist when CM decided that series with predictable endings is twaddle. Entire genres have appeared to motivate children to read.

Charlotte Mason, in my opinion, was a religious fanatic with a stick up her arse. Just sayin'

The woman gave "expert" lectures about children from birth to age nine....but never had a kid of her own.

Not surprisingly, she never married.

She was known to say "education is nothing other than the hand maiden of religion"


She's Twaddle.

04-18-2015, 10:08 AM
Hah! I didnt know all that about her, just that her writing was too dry and archaic for me to get through.
What attracted me, at least, to her pedagoical philosophy, was that it would inspire a love of learning and reading, and promised great results without boring worksheets. Maybe BW philosophy is a direct, modernized descendant of CM. It fills those same needs I was looking for with CM.

And thanks TFZ for answering my question abt her earlier. ;)

04-18-2015, 10:49 AM
Part of discerning what makes a book good....is experiencing when a book is bad. LOL. :)

When I was in my mid/late teens I read tons of crappy romances. I asked my mum recently why she didn't tell me to stop and she said that she hoped I'd eventually realise how rubbish they were (which I did, but doesn't mean they're not good for relaxation).

My main objection to the kind of scholastic twaddle is that it's visually appealing, but I know that DS will only read most of them once, because they're basically dull. I'd rather get them from the library than buy them (and sometimes, when I say he can buy them with his own money he decides not to bother!)

I get the point of 'twaddle' in that context. What actually irritates me is the conservative, classical view that nothing written in the last 100 years is worth reading. Classics are great, but language and writing evolves.


04-18-2015, 11:10 AM
I agree with letting them read what they will, up to a point. I'm still going to exercise some discernment, but the least needed to make sure it's age appropriate and not inappropriate in some way for a 6 y/o.

The toy/book combo is pure marketing; and that alone irritates me. It would irritate me slightly less if I were more certain that it just had to be endured in order to encourage kids to read more. My experience when my two teens were much younger was that the book was just a delivery vehicle for the toy and was cast aside.

04-18-2015, 11:12 AM
Yes, there is such a thing as twaddle, but it's not necessarily bad for kids to read it. My son was an early reader - he could read those short, repetitive novels at about age 5 or 6, and he read them ALL. It was hard to find enough for him to read that was easy enough without hitting any scary or mature themes. He didn't want to read more challenging material until he was about 8 or 9, so for several years, he had a steady diet of "twaddle."

At the same time, I read aloud a lot of books that were above his reading level and he gradually matured into them, but he wasn't ready to read them himself.

My daughter never had much patience for twaddle. She wants the "real" books, the "good" books, the ones that actually get to the serious stuff. When she hit age 12/13, she spent a year reading over a hundred crappy novels out of the teen section of the library - a new one every couple of days. Eventually, she had enough. Now she reads less and fills her time with YouTube videos. I'm not sure if that's an improvement, but she certainly is pop-culture savvy.

04-18-2015, 12:40 PM
When we're talking about a child who loves to read, reads accurately and fluently, and is spoilt for choice... then I can see the twaddle argument having validity. But when a kid is still just getting into reading, or can read but not smoothly yet, then anything they enjoy that they'll happily read on their own is great, in my opinion. I read every single Goosebumps book when I was a kid, for example. I still remember going to the bookshop and being allowed to choose a new book each weekend. I was younger than the target audience (I think?) and frankly, it's pretty poor stuff. But the sheer volume of reading did make me a much faster, and all subsequent reading was a piece of cake. I think that was what really made me fluent in my reading. Like riding a bike, playing the piano, using good manners, or reciting maths facts, once the foundation is laid down, reading really needs a pretty decent amount of practice.

The books I hated the most as a kid (and moreso as an adult) were ones that were poorly written and overtly didactic. Ones where the moral or lesson is the main drive for the author, and the plot added as an afterthought. The writing is usually tremendously bad. The worst one I remember was from the Doctor's waiting room--a picture book about Bugs Bunny and Porky Pig. They both join a gym, but Porky gets way to invested in it and develops body issues from not being at some ideal standard of fitness. He stops eating and works out like a maniac. Bugs uses a funhouse mirror to make Porky think he's absurdly skinny which terrifies him away from exercising. Blah blah moral tacked on the end. I consider books like this twaddle and unfit for reading unless there literally isn't anything else and no libraries to be had. They used to make me feel embarrassed on behalf of the author, even at the age of 6 or 7.

04-18-2015, 01:25 PM
Dd inhales books, ALL kinds. She uses a wheeled cart at the library to carry her stash and will max out all three of our cards if we let her. I don't police her reading since she does a pretty good job of knowing when something is beyond her in terms of violence or any type of romance (it's still SO GROSS, lol!!) and when it's something she can jump into. That said, I work hard to hide the groans and eye rolls when she hauls out stacks of Sonic the Hedgehog books. They don't even qualify as twaddle. They are crap. Smart a$$, market driven crap. But, she reads through them and then picks up a book on birds she thought was cool, or a Penderwick story, or any of a hundred other things that catch her eye. If it were all Sonic, all the time I'd work on steering her toward different choices, but it's not. We're good. :)

04-18-2015, 02:05 PM
I let the kids read whatever they want but I do make suggestions - War of the Worlds, Hobbit, Edgar Rice Buroughs. At one point my oldest took off and read all the Wizard of Oz books... I didn't even know there was more than one. Yet, Captain Underpants as someone else mentioned was a favorite and was read over and over and even though the boys are now 12 and 15 they still won't let me give them away. I still read aloud every night (or use audio books) so I try to choose classics, books that 'count' for literature since we really don't 'do English' as a subject.

Personally I hated MTH because I read them a loud and got very tired of saying "Jack said.... Annie said...." over and over and over again. I don't think we even got to 20 before we tossed them. But Magic School bus we read over and over again and when my oldest was old enough he would read them himself - but we are a house of science geeks.

You can't lump all series into twaddle - Harry Potter, Wizard of Oz, Edgar Rice Buroughs (Tarzan and Princess of Mars... though the later did kind of turn to twaddle at the end...lol).

Think of it as watching a sitcom instead of PBS, sometimes you just need something light and fun.

The other thing that drives me nuts is parents who insist on reading EVERY book first to make sure its 'safe' before their kid reads it.... I'v seen moms at park days just sitting in their car reading trying to stay ahead of their kids.... talk about book nazis.

04-18-2015, 03:25 PM
DS reads tons of graphic novels and I felt a bit guilty that I didn't pre-read (or not guilty, but wondered if I should). I heard that Bone was the most challenged graphic novel last year :O

04-18-2015, 03:36 PM
There are some amazing graphic novels out there. Bone was challenged? Why?

04-18-2015, 04:34 PM
For the same reason Captain Underpants was the most banned book in America. :wasntme:

04-18-2015, 04:59 PM
I looked it up: violence, racism, and political viewpoint. ???? This is what happens when people don't have real things to worry about.

04-18-2015, 04:59 PM
My son has been enjoying the MTH series so far; we're up to #15. They're definitely predictable and formulaic, but the writing isn't that bad and the topics are varied and spark some interesting discussions. (As someone who still owns a complete set of "Trixie Belden" books and occasionally re-reads them, I can't really throw stones) We're asking DS to read increasing amounts of the books during our readalouds, so I should be spared from faking too many more enthusiastic "Oh man"s from Jack. ;-) When our world wall map comes in, I'm planning to mark the places Jack and Annie visited, and maybe we'll do a timeline based on the books.

The books that give me major eye rolls are the Star Wars and Thomas product tie-in books, all gifts from well-meaning relatives. The Thomas ones in particular are so obviously nothing but ads for new engine characters. I'm thinking of hiding the Star Wars one with Jar Jar in it.

04-18-2015, 06:05 PM
I definitely think there is twaddle out there. For example, the Barbie books my 5-year old gravitates towards. Ugh. She is welcome to get them from the library, but she knows I won't read them aloud to her as I explained they are not my cup of tea. I really try not to go into detail with my judgments about them. I'd like to think she'll be able to discern good literature on her own some day.

My bigger concern is that, because the whole "twaddle movement" stems from CM, and the base following her are unabashedly Christian, the term "twaddle" is used as much to censor ungodly ideas and opposing worldviews as it is to steer children toward quality reading. Whether that is what Mason intended is unknown to me, but I can certainly see it being interpreted that way now.

The great Judy Blume pretty much summed up my ideas when she said:

Let children read whatever they want and then talk about it with them. If parents and kids can talk together, we won't have as much censorship because we won't have as much fear.

04-18-2015, 06:28 PM
Well, that'll teach me to read the thread before I respond -- I could have just said, "Ditto to everything crazymom said!"

And one more of my all-time favorite quotes about reading:

I wrote books to entertain. I'm not trying to teach anything! If I suspected the author was trying to show me how to be a better behaved girl, I shut the book.

Beverly Cleary

04-18-2015, 07:19 PM
LOVE the Beverly Cleary quote.

04-18-2015, 07:52 PM
By the way, I should have said that I believe the majority of CM followers are Christian homeschoolers. I love a lot of Mason's ideas, and I have read all kinds of books, including her own, about her methods. And I definitely would not label myself as a Christian. I see a lot of value in her philosophy (nature study!), but I disagree with a fair amount, too.

04-18-2015, 08:34 PM
Not Twaddle:
the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Ramona series by Beverly Cleary
Alice Through the Looking-glass by Lewis Carroll (unabridged, original)
Frances Hodgeson Burnett (The little Princess, The Secret Garden, Little Lord Fauntleroy)
Louisa May Alcott (Little Women, Little Men)
LM Montgomery (the Anne of Green Gables series, though her prose becomes wearisome in parts so we end up skimming and doing some internal eye-rolls when she goes off on overly elaborate descriptions, much like Tolstoy)
Peter Pan, unabridged, original
The Harry Potter Series by LM Montgomery
The Hundred Dresses
Beverly Cleary's Ramona series
Stuart Little
Eloise books
Watership Down (the summer I turned 12, couldn't put it down)
All Creatures Great and Small series(James Herriot series, good when I was a kid, good now)
The Cay
Island of the Blue Dolphins
Charlotte's Web
A Door in the Wall
To Kill a Mockingbird

As an adult:
Harry Potter Series
Outlander series by Gabaldon (definitely not for kids!)
On my Way to Paradise by Dave Wolverton (his other stuff got too dark and dismal for me)

As for twaddle, pretty much anything featuring Disney characters or other cartoon-franchize characters, is guaranteed to be bad, and I also find typical leveled readers and age-group-specific series like Junie B. Jones and Judy Moody, to be blah (as do my kids, who had zero patience for that stuff).

My kids liked having Really Good books (like the Anne series, the Little House series, The Secret Garden, etc) read aloud to them, over reading to themselves what was available, that they could read to themselves. I tried many times to get them interested in what I privately considered dreck, because I bought into the worry over them not reading independently. But now that my daughter started devouring Harry Potter books on her own, I see that it doesn't appear to harm them, to read aloud really well-written books, and simply allow their reading level and ability, to catch up eventually, to reading things worth reading.

The Little House series stands out, as do the Ramona books, as the few that are accessible to kids of a basic reading level, that are still really worth reading, at any age.

04-18-2015, 11:40 PM
All I can say is you all are making me glad our ALE only has Usborne book fairs. That said we do the library sale every year a buy tons of twaddle for a quarter each. They are welcome to choose whatever they want for free reading. I choose the read alouds and audio books for the car. I hope that they will realize how much better a well written story is too one with a bright cover and a familiar character at some point.

04-19-2015, 10:51 AM
I looked it up: violence, racism, and political viewpoint. ???? This is what happens when people don't have real things to worry about.

I thought I also saw that a character smoked, but maybe that was Flora and Ulysses (which I read aloud to DS). I think some people have very fragile worlds if they think that one book is going to send their kids off in the wrong direction

04-19-2015, 11:59 AM
MTH were boring for me, and didn't last long for the kids, but while we were reading them, I'd point out ways they could have been more interestingly written (for instance, changing the verb "said" into ... anything else). They aren't poorly written, but....

The ones I objected to, when Girl was in public school, were the "Hannah Montana" tv show "novelizations." Bleh. Typos, verb/subject disagreements, run-ons...and, of course, they were based on tv shows. HM tv shows. THAT is twaddle - and I pointed it out to my Girl. Now she points out typos in anything she reads and I realize how annoying I must have been. But she learned!

04-19-2015, 12:05 PM
The Harry Potter Series by LM Montgomery

What? Are you suggesting JK Rowling is a plagiarist? Or did LMM write a series I missed? :)

04-19-2015, 12:05 PM
One problem I see is the misguided idea that a book without pictures, newly labeled a 'chapter book', is automatically superior to picture books. We have decided that the natural progression of reading goes picture book-early reader-intro chapter books-novels. I posit that we can totally skip early readers and intro chapter books, and just extend the picture book phase. It is much easier to find picture books with wonderfully rich language, complex sentences, advanced vocabulary, and of course great storylines and characters, than it is to find early readers and beginner chapter books with those elements. New readers advance their reading skills faster and with less tedium through a diet of great picture books versus the formulaic learn-to-read books. It is also more helpful in developing a love of reading, because they are books to love :)

04-19-2015, 12:09 PM
That said, I read a variety as a child/young adult: some good, some twaddle. But by the time I was in my mid 20s, I couldn't stomach any twaddle-ish stuff anymore. I am voracious reader, and I guess I had overdosed on it by that point. I only read literary fiction and nonfiction now. So, tastes can evolve, and twaddle doesn't spoil or stunt a person's reading choices for life.

Blue Ipsy
04-19-2015, 12:33 PM
Someones "twaddle" is someone else's "treasure". My 9 y/o has discovered graphic novels. A whole new world has opened up to her now b/c prior to that she would not pick up a book unless it had pictures in it. I say add in MORE pictures to these great books and my DD would be reading some great lit! ;)

04-19-2015, 01:55 PM
Great point about sticking with picture books. Or anything with pictures. I was thrilled when my 7.5-year old discovered a volume of Peanuts comics. I triple-dog-dare you to call the Peanuts twaddle!

Blue Ipsy
04-19-2015, 01:58 PM
For whatever reason my 9 y/o can not stand Peanuts. I mean who doesn't like The Great Pumpkin Patch Charlie Brown.......Snoopy.......... *sigh* ......

04-20-2015, 02:35 PM
There are definitely books that I would classify as "twaddle". I won't buy them, or keep them on our bookshelves in our house. However, on library outings the kids can sit and read as much of those books as they want, and they can check them out from the library. On the understanding that I will not read them aloud. I just can't get through a MTH book out loud. Once in a while, one will line up with something we're learning about and I'll read it - but its a fast read in one sitting and then it's over. I don't find them good to read aloud, nor are they particularly interesting. I don't waste my read aloud time on books like that, but the kids are free to have them and read them on their own.

Graphic novels (provided they are not based on Disney characters or Monster High or some junk like that) are not in my twaddle category. I LOVE graphic novels, and my son who is a bit less enthusiastic about reading will devour a graphic novel. A good graphic novel is equal to a good chapter book, as far as I'm concerned.

I love a good twaddlish book myself sometimes - I mean, I did obsessively read the entire True Blood novel series lol - a little junk food never killed a person, but I wouldn't want to make it my WHOLE diet, KWIM?

04-20-2015, 08:56 PM
What? Are you suggesting JK Rowling is a plagiarist? Or did LMM write a series I missed? :)

Whoops, slip of the mind/tongue/typing fingers. I meant JK Rowling. Been having a lot of strange issues with reversing letters and numbers lately, too. Not sure why. Losing my mind? HEHE

04-20-2015, 09:15 PM
About comics, we LOVE Calvin and Hobbes! I have 2 or 3 volumes and they just never get old. I'm glad my kids like them as much as I do. No other strip comic ever actually made me really, truly, spontaneously, laugh out loud. So I wouldn't call comics automatically twaddle. Nothing is just by genre. And every genre has examples of twaddle, to offer.

04-20-2015, 09:53 PM
For whatever reason my 9 y/o can not stand Peanuts. I mean who doesn't like The Great Pumpkin Patch Charlie Brown.......Snoopy.......... *sigh* ......
Much as I grew up with Peanuts, and liked it (mostly) then, I was sort of shocked after not seeing it for so long, by just how much my appraisal of Lucy changed, and I think that my appraisal was context-dependent based on prevailing cultural attitudes of the different eras in which I saw it.

In the context in which any "spunk" from a female character was tantalizingly edgy and liberated, I got it: Lucy was Her Own Woman.

In the context of a mom, I looked with fresh eyes and suddenly realized, that Lucy is actually a sociopath. Except for a few redeeming moments like putting a blanket over her little brother when she finds him asleep outdoors, she is the perfect, classic, psychopathic foil for Charlie Brown's neurotic personality type, but....yuck. She also stalks, and harasses, Schroeder, and never understands that No Means No.

Still, in the interest of not being one of the people who need to stop starching their underpants, I still get the dry humor underneath it all, and realize the cynicism and wryness there was never really meant for kids anyway.

I do feel a pang or two, seeing the world that was still the norm when I was very little, the world I still remember, when kids really did run free and wild, pillowcases in hand, on Halloween night while all the adults stayed home to hand out candy, when homes with picture-windows and window-boxes and wide sidewalks you could roller skate on without adult supervision dogging your every step, and neighbors' yards you could play hide-and-seek in til the streetlamps came on, were still normal and common enough not to need comment.

So maybe in that world, Lucy was a Liberated Woman instead of a bully and a stalker, and maybe in this world, Snoopy would be tackled, tazered, and tried, because he pointed his finger like a gun to shoot an imaginary Red Baron.

I guess I like Peanuts better and better, now that I think about it.

04-20-2015, 10:15 PM
Love both quotes.

And I discuss a lot of books with my kids. Ideas, thought, feelings.......

04-21-2015, 12:01 PM
Twaddle is great for teaching kids that different people enjoy different books for different reasons. My husband and I differ quite a bit on what books we enjoy reading to DD. He HATES MTH. With a passion. I don't love it, but I do love that my DD enjoys the stories, and frequently gets interested in random subjects I would never have expected. We learned about Louis Armstrong and Mozart, and she absolutely adores the non-fiction companion books.

But there are certain books I can't stand. Dora books, Frozen books, Sesame Street books. Awful. Painful. So if DD wants to get them out of the library, fine. But I won't read them to her. She has to read them herself. Which typically means looking at the pictures and making up her own story. Fine by me.

As an adult, I enjoy twaddle now and again. I have read every Stephen King book (in order) and all of the Pretty Little Liars books. But I also read non-twaddle. It just depends on my mood. I want my DD to also have the freedom to understand complex books, but appreciate the relaxing nature of a good easy read.

04-21-2015, 09:14 PM
Glad you mentioned that, rwilkenfeld, about different reading for different purposes or moods, and for different personality types.
My DH is a voracious reader, and loves what he calls "popcorn novels" and isn't at all picky...he'll read about anything. And he can afford to: he reads 2-3 times faster than I can manage. :)

I only wish I were as easy-going and nonjudgmental as he; I'd probably have fun more often, because life doesn't offer as many high-falutin' choices as it does mediocre ones. Reminds me of a Calvin and Hobbes: Calvin scorned Hobbes' terrible waste of making a wish, on something as paltry as a sandwich, while Calvin wished for something like world peace and riches...and then in the end, Hobbes said in his own defense: "But I got my wish!"

05-28-2015, 01:09 PM
I now love twaddle! DS just asked (okay, really he whined and begged) to go back to the library to look for another Erin Hunter / Warriors (cats) book. If it sparks his imagination, and gets him reading 300 pages in under a week, how can it be bad?
Now to hope our meager library has one of the next books in the series. *sigh*

05-29-2015, 06:41 PM
Elle LOVED those books. They were absolute favorites:)

Interesting to note....Erin Hunter is the pen name of a trio of three authors who write the books.

05-29-2015, 06:57 PM
Stephen King isn't twaddle. There are plenty of lit classes offered by big name colleges where Stephen King is studied in exclusivity as contemporary-classic American literature. He brought a lot of interesting methods to the table that changed contemporary literature and shaped the writing of a lot of other prominent authors.

His book "On Writing" is nearly a required text in creative writing departments.

50-100 years down the road, a handful of his books will be deemed literary classics.

05-29-2015, 06:57 PM
Did not know there was a trio of writers! The first one DH read to the boy, he said it was so painful he would NOT be reading any further ones.

(Hes currently reading Masterharper of Pern books... the only ones that arent romance stories.)

05-29-2015, 07:06 PM
Some of Stephen Kings books are definitely going to be classics, maybe already are a bit. Some though I think you could call twaddle. I remember reading The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon and thinking, "this has to get better, it's Stephen King" and it just didn't.

I too have read the entire Pretty Little Liars series, and I'm pretty sure most of my themed cozy mysteries would count as twaddle too but they're fun easy reads. Even the ones where with in the first chapter you can go hey two new characters, one will be dead soon and the other one killed them.

03-02-2016, 01:43 AM
This is an older post, but I hate twaddle. DD is barely able to read easy readers, but when the time comes, I'll let her mostly read what she wants for free reading. I hated reading when I was a kid, so if she enjoys it, I think we're good. As for read alouds, I mostly read classic, old timey chapter books or good quality picture books. Both of which she loves. If there's no plot, the "artwork" is painful to look at and the characters are brats, I don't like to waste read aloud time on it. DH reads aloud daily, but usually the shortest books on her nightstand so he can read 'em to her.

03-02-2016, 04:10 AM
Did not know there was a trio of writers! The first one DH read to the boy, he said it was so painful he would NOT be reading any further ones.

(Hes currently reading Masterharper of Pern books... the only ones that arent romance stories.)

Totally confused. There is one "Masterharper of Pern" book. It is almost a stand alone in the series. There is certainly romance in it though. (As most of McCaffrey's books) However only a handful of her books are "romance" novels and none of The Pern Series.
The Pern books are like Harry Potter, I read them at least once a year. It is a very real place to me. And while I own several (if not all) of Todd McCaffrey's book, I would not suggest them to anyone. I have read most of her other books. (I did not like a few and never continued those series. She might be my favorite author......

My third son (and husband) shares my love of Pern.

03-02-2016, 11:33 AM
Honestly, some times required reading is "beef stew" for the brain. Heavy and leaves you feeling stuffed. A good mixture of "junk food" books is healthy IMO.

03-02-2016, 11:46 AM
To ease the confusion, yes, I meant Harper Hall series from Pern. The ones with Menolly and the cute little fire lizards. And Piemur. The Menolly fire lizard breeding scene was apparently vague enough that it went over DS's head with little interest.

Not saying there is anything wrong with Pern or twaddle... but her books are amazingly formulaic. I read one of Todd's books, he apparently follows the same formula, though the romance was downplayed (Dragonblood, I think).
Each book has a premise of some (usually) scientific topic (meteors, vaccinations, tsunamis, dolphins, etc) then you have boy and girl, boy likes girl, wins her over.

I enjoy the books too, but they are pretty twaddlesque. McCaffrey is one of the few authors that Hubby, DS, and I all read. (DS is going through the Jaxom stories now.)

03-02-2016, 10:07 PM
'Twaddle' sounds ever-so-faintly-obscene, like 'Slartibartfast' in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. But I have to agree it's a useful term, if not a divisive one.

My kids detest those leveled readers, and would probably hate reading if they were stuck with them or made to read them.

They have enjoyed read-alouds, and generally, the classics are a lot better written than modern fiction. The loss of vocabulary in America is like the loss of rainforests in Brazil: once gone, very hard or impossible to regain, and vital to the ecosystem of our thoughts.

B&Z Mama
03-02-2016, 10:36 PM
The loss of vocabulary in America is like the loss of rainforests in Brazil: once gone, very hard or impossible to regain, and vital to the ecosystem of our thoughts.

So very true.

03-02-2016, 10:57 PM
I couldnt get through the book *Lud in the Mist* - because it had too many big words.
Is it because back in 1926, people used entirely different words? Was it normal to have 30+ word sentences?
Or is my difficulty with it that those vocabulary trees have been cut down?

(The book kept coming up when I was reading about authors, and books they found inspirational.)

03-03-2016, 12:07 AM
Great word.

The loss of vocabulary in America is like the loss of rainforests in Brazil: once gone, very hard or impossible to regain, and vital to the ecosystem of our thoughts.
Remarkably well said.

Is it because back in 1926, people used entirely different words? Was it normal to have 30+ word sentences?

I've come across some ridiculously long sentences in the books we've read. Seems like you'd get winded if you read them without pausing.

03-03-2016, 01:51 AM
I am married to a book snob. His mom is one, he is one, it runs in his family. I read whatever catches my attention. And sometimes, those books are truly terrible and I don't get through them. Tech will read whatever catches his attention. Mostly, right now, it's Curious George (oh i hate that monkey) and Batman. I don't really care. He's reading.

I read many of the "classics" as a child and thought they were horrible. Some of the ways they would write drove me crazy. Taking 15 words to say something when 5 words will do it just as well, drives me batty. Spending 3 paragraphs to describe a "haunting forest", when just that description would have worked quite well, is what drove me away from many of the classics. They are just TOO VERBOSE! I LOVE big, odd, words, but they just aren't practical for uses in most conversations (unless I'm talking to my husband who has the same love for big, odd, old words).

I don't think twaddle matters. Someone is reading it (even if it is horrible like the twilight series), and it encourages reading. Maybe they will move on to bigger and better books. Maybe they won't.

03-03-2016, 08:12 AM
The only books I truly consider "twaddle" are the ones my mother-in-law picks in the grocery checkout line for my kids. Seriously, how many scratch& sniff, blinky-light, sound-effect Thanksgiving books with Bible verses does this world need?

03-03-2016, 08:38 AM
I've come across some ridiculously long sentences in the books we've read. Seems like you'd get winded if you read them without pausing.

Like reading Faulkner out loud.....

09-14-2016, 02:10 AM
The Rainbow Magic book series. Made the mistake of buying those at a Scholastic warehouse sale. In my defense, they were shrinkwrapped and my younger kid was getting restless so I just chucked them in the cart and checked out. Never again. I've never read books more useless.

With that said, I'm with whoever suggested a well balanced "diet" of books (maybe this was in Well Trained Mind...it's all starting to blur together...) in that some should be challenging, some should be on the same reading level, and some should be easy. Twaddle may fit in with the easy or on level stuff. Your brain can't be challenged every minute or you never get to just enjoy the reading skills you have.

Some of the manga I have checked out for my 6 year old are probably twaddle, story-wise, but they serve a purpose in Japanese society: they teach young children what's expected of good citizens. Things like working hard, persistence, and caring for others. The characters are always striving toward goals and picking themselves up (or each other) when they fail. The goals may be ridiculous but the characters have a lot of persistence. So I'm good with that.

I know Twilight is roundly criticized but I found that somewhat disingenuous; no one claimed this was high literature. Are we that harsh about the frankly ridiculous sci-fi novels marketed predominantly to men (and don't get me started on the nonsense that girls/women can't love sci-fi!)? Most people aren't.

I think a lot depends on your perspective and the purpose of the book.