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But seriously, no more monkeys jumping on the bed

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I’m taking a break this Monday from talking about Curious George so that I don’t depress you too much. One of my daughter’s all time favorite books, song, things in general is No More Monkeys Jumping on the Bed. Here is a video of her listening to the song, reading the book (illustrated by Tina Freeman) to herself, and then running off in search of a monkey missing from her monkey collection. And, yes, she lined them up that way. There are coordinated movements that go with the book (which has great illustrations and varies the male/female pronouns, given the basic text it does its best to make it interesting) and song. We have a dance that involves throwing her monkeys that accompanies the song (we also have multiple versions of the song). I’ll admit that I have done as much as possible to make more exciting for myself the reading of this book. Why? Because she loves it and it is about the most monotonous thing you will ever read, a statement I make after having read a huge number of incredibly monotonous children’s books that pride themselves on intense repetition. The book starts “Ten little monkeys, jumping on the bed, one fell off and bumped his head, Mama called a doctor and the doctor said, ‘No more monkeys jumping on the bed.’” I just typed that from memory in about a second, not because I am that good at memorizing things or typing, but because it is that ingrained into me. I know it better than my name (I say my full name less often then I read this book). Guess how it continues? “Nine little. . . ” I’ll stop there. I actually mind it less and less, the more we add to it (the acting out of the monkeys jumping with the stuffed animals, my sign for “calling” gets more complex every time, it’s progressed back in time from cell to landline to rotary to pay phone, next I’ll be working on speaking to an operator and getting her to place my call). I wonder if I should have tried this in my class this semester, the majority of my students hated Robbe-Grillet’s Jealousy — maybe it would have been better if the repetition in that book were accentuated with hand movements, miming, a song, and acting out parts of it with stuffed animals? Are there any books your kids make you read to them that you find a little dull and what do you do to make it better for yourself? Are there books full of repetition that you remember loving as a child? Why do you think the monkeys are so damn stupid that they  keep falling off the bed? Especially that last one, how hard is it to jump on a bed without falling off when you are by yourself? Why don’t they all just jump on the floor? Why doesn’t the Mom buy them a trampoline? What is wrong with these monkeys?

8 responses »

  1. Very cute! You can see the joy in her face at the song and the story. But totally can empathise with you on the repetition. We had some children’s books that my daughter would want night after night – Scaredy Mouse, anything about Maisie the Mouse, etc. One book I hated included counting nearly 100 dots. Drove me insane. To make reading over and over again interesting I tried to invent stupid voices for the characters. Apparently this irritated my daughter (still does – she likes everything in mummy’s voice). Actions would work well though! I am impressed by the group of monkeys you own… with us it’s bears and cats…

    • Thank you! Wow a HUNDRED dots! I get tired sometimes counting to ten and twenty over and over again, I cannot even imagine. We’ve read a couple of Maisie the Mouse books, but not Scaredy Mouse ones, we’ll have to do so!

  2. Pingback: How much repetition gets to people and how much their books mean | Children's books

  3. What’s weirdest is the fact that they all bump their heads when they fall off. None of them breaks an arm or a leg. None of them twists an ankle. None of them gets a cut or scrape. But every single one bumps his head.

  4. Pingback: See the Monkeys Reading in Bed | Children's books

  5. Pingback: My child may be psychic | Children's books

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