This book has such mixed reviews on Amazon. People either seem to love it or hate it. Like other books that my kids really enjoy, this book is crammed full of naughtiness. Personally, I don’t find that allowing my kids to view misbehavior leads to misbehavior. I think it is a great way to simultaneously say, “this is not okay, and it’s so not okay, that imagining someone doing these things is so ridiculous, it’s funny.” My 11 year old in particular loved this one so much that he requested we get it a second time from the library a few months later.
17 Things I’m Not Allowed to Do Anymore Details
Title: 17 Things I’m Not Allowed to Do Anymore
Author: Jenny Offill
Illustrator: Nancy Carpenter
Publication Year: 2012
Age Group: Kindergarten, Early Elementary, Mid Elementary
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Based on the Amazon reviews, this book seems to be really disliked by a lot of people. To give you an idea how this book goes, the first page says, “I had an idea to staple my brother’s hair to his pillow.” Then it shows a picture of a sleeping boy with strands of his hair stapled to his pillow. The second page says, “I am not allowed to use the stapler anymore” and shows the boy hugging his mother with the pillow still stuck to his head.
My 11 year old son thought this book was funny beyond words. I completely understand why. No one was hurt. No real harm was caused. The idea itself is completely ridiculous. If a parent was worried that their child would get the idea to use a stapler near their younger siblings and actually follow through on that thought, then yes, I can see how this book might be a problem. However, none of my children, ages 4 to 11, are more likely to try to staple any part of their siblings after reading this book.
On another page, the main character does a cartwheel and exposes her underpants. Again, a little naughtiness that gets kids giggling without any long term negative consequences in my opinion. This book is filled with naughtiness, but personally I don’t think reading naughtiness causes kids to be more naughty. If anything, I think it makes them less likely to be naughty since they are getting to experience the thrill vicariously.
We’ve actually checked this book out from the library more than once, because my oldest likes it so much. The last time I read it I found I enjoyed it for a completely different reason. The first time, I was too busy being surprised and mildly appalled to think more deeply on the book’s message. However, the last time I was reading it, I found myself thinking about the way kids’ brains work.
I don’t want to imply that my kids are never naughty. Like all children, they occasionally makes some questionable choices. The way this book repeats the phrase, “I had an idea…” made me think about what it’s like to be a kid. My kids occasionally do things I can’t comprehend. I think in those moments, they must be like this little girl. “I had an idea to….do something my parent would think was insane.” However, they don’t think about consequences. It goes straight from an idea to an action in a millisecond.
While the entire book portrays the mother as being somewhat exasperated, on the last page, she is hugging her misguided offspring. In that way, I love the message in this book. To me it says, “You are still growing and learning. You will have ideas, and sometimes you will impulsively follow through on them before you understand they are bad ideas. As the parent, I might be frustrated and upset in the moment, but at the end of the day, I love you, no matter what.”