"Momma, what's this book about?" That is a question that I hear every time we go to our local bookstore as my very curious six-year-old daughter picks up eye-catching books from various sections from fiction to biographies to psychology. My family spends a fair amount time in bookstores, so this is a query I've become accustomed to hearing and one I try my darndest to answer (but really, how does one explain James Joyce's "Ulysses" to a 6-year-old?).
Recently, I've been curious to see what she thought the books were about. She doesn't yet know --- from experience or exposure -- what the narrative of Jean-Paul Sartre's "No Exit" is about, what happens in the F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby" or that George Orwell's "Animal Farm" is not a book for children.
What happens when this recent kindergarten graduate judges a book by its cover? Here are the results:
"I think it's a book about a haunted theme park and it stars a magical magic guy and he's good and evil and he's trying to get rid of the ghosts. And I think at the end, since it's haunted by a ghost, he tried to make the park go on fire and it did. "
"It's about a guy that tried to kill a mockingbird but he couldn't because the bird was magical. And the bird lives in different trees because he's trying to hide from him but the man keeps hitting leaves that look like the mockingbird, but he never shoots the mockingbird. And guy is really bad but the bird is really good. "
"It looks like a book for kids. I think it's about a donkey and a pig that do not like each other and they both live on a farm for animals. The same farm. It looks like it would be a funny book with a good really nice ending. "
"I think this is about a gigantic robot who goes on fire and he doesn't like himself. It has a sad ending. It looks like a book for teens. The title means fire, a really really really big fire since the number is 451, that would mean it was really hot. So the robot must get really hot. Maybe that is why he is so sad."
"I think it's a book for kiddies, it's a colorful book. I think it's about a tiny bird that flew over a cuckoo bird's nest, that is why it's named that. It looks like a really sweet kiddy book."
"This is about a girl that goes mining. I don't know why, but she looks like she would go mining, mining for gold. "
"I've heard about it before but I have no idea what it is about. I think that on the cover it is an inside out whale (so it's gross). The book is all about a whale whose name is Moby Dick. "
"It doesn't really have a story. The cover is weird. It doesn't give you like any clue to what it is about on the cover, like other books do."
"That looks VERY CREEPY!!!" (My daughter insisted that there be three, exactly three exclamation points). "It looks like it would be scary and very very strange and about creepy things. The story is about a very very hairy eagle who hangs out with fancy ladies."
"I think it's about baseball. A person who likes to play baseball but also takes care of a plane."
For the rest of this slideshow, <a href="http://blogs.babble.com/strollerderby/2012/07/12/judging-a-book-by-its-cover-a-6-year-old-guesses-what-classic-novels-are-all-about/" target="_hplink">click over to Babble.com</a> <strong>MORE ON BABBLE</strong> <a href="http://blogs.babble.com/babble-voices/stefanie-wilder-tayler-baby-on-bored-electric-boogaloo/2012/03/26/are-you-a-babysitters-worst-nightmare/" target="_hplink">11 signs you're a babysitter's worst nightmare</a> <a href="http://blogs.babble.com/kid-scoop/2011/11/01/20-classic-movies-you-should-watch-with-your-kids/" target="_hplink">20 classic movies you should watch with your kids</a> <a href="http://blogs.babble.com/kid-scoop/2012/01/05/stuff-kids-have-ruined/" target="_hplink">25 horrifying photos of things kids have ruined</a>
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