Junie B. Jones, Bad Girl?
Mon Jul 30 2007
"I think it took me like a month to read one book because there were so many misspelled words that I didn't understand, and we had to talk about every little thing," Caitlyn Siwek said in an article featured in the Style section of The New York Times . Siwek, 9, is speaking about a book in the 15 year-old Junie B. Jones collection, a series her mother, Sandra Scales, seriously opposes and a topic that has started a raucous debate on Times-owned site about.com. '"People who were taking exception to the people who take exception to the series were the ones using words like 'dumb' and 'stupid,' " she said. "There's this bizarre bullying thing that happened."' Scales and her fellow Jones opponents argue that little Junie B's naughty behavior and poor grammar set bad examples for young readers. Jones has been known to talk back to her teachers, head-butt other children, and * gasp * play with scissors. She also has a less than stellar grip on grammar, adding "ed" to put words such as "run" to put it into the past tense, resulting in "runned." The article also notes her use of "words like funnest and beautifuller." The series' author, Barbara Park, says she has received her share of nasty letters. "People act as if I'm teaching children how to blow up cats," she says, defending her books. Park says however, that the majority of her letters are from fans. Michael Reinemer, whose 5 year-old son Leif enjoys Jones's antics, says, "These are books that are funny and interesting. I think they encourage him to want to read. Kids can find humor in the way things go wrong." However funny the books may be though, the underlying truth is that most kids in kindergarten and nearly all in first grade are able to conjugate verbs, and are aware that "runned" is wrong, and is supposed to be ran. Even parents who are proponents of the series may agree that Junie B. Jones's lack of grammatical knowledge is unprecedented, even for someone who is five or six. Lance Alvis, who stopped reading in the middle one of the books, insisting his five year-old daughter pick out another one, says he is changing his mind. '"The turning point was when I asked Lyra if she wanted to act like or talk like Junie B. Jones. She looked at me like I was insane," he said. 'Share your thoughts