Curious George — Outdated?

We read our kids at least one book every night at Bedtime. Last night I was reading the original Curious George book to my 4 year old. At one point in the story, Curious George escapes from jail by climbing out on the telephone wires. My son then asked “what are telephone wires?” Now, it could have been an innocent 4 year old’s question but it got me thinking that my son is living in a wireless/cordless age and may not know (now or forever) what telephone wires are!

There are 2 implications of this. First, I think the advance of technology into our daily lives may cause our children to lose touch with the classics on a number of levels. Shakespeare is in Old English and requires concentration and a deep vocabulary to understand. Milton requires deep thought and religious sensibilities and all of this in an era where kids have poor English as well as digital ADD, skipping between browsers and using weird abbreviations on IM. Additionally, many of the classic children’s stories refer to products and concepts such as rotary phones and wires which are anachronistic today. I worry that all of this will lead to less well-rounded personalities and a less thoughtful next generation.

Second, our generation needs to develop a series of new children’s classics or, dare I say, update the old ones so that the kids can relate to them and develop relationships with these old or new classics. I know full well that Curious George cannot traipse across wireless spectrum but we can challenge authors to abandon happy and go-lucky Barney or foul-mouthed (kick your butt) SpongeBob in order to develop a next generation of classics such as Curious George, Madeleine and the truly timeless Dr. Seuss.

[Originally published on 16th October 2006 by MIchael Eisenberg]