Parenting on the Edge: Madeleine Brand casts a critical eye on classic kids’ books

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Audio slide show: 9 weddings on 09/09/09

Rethinking "The Giving Tree," "The Runaway Bunny" and the deeply controversial "Love You Forever."

Why am I throwing yet another (b)log on the towering inferno of mommy blogs out there? There must be at least a gazillion of them, to use my son's word for anything larger than 10. And yet there also seems to be an unquenchable desire to talk about parenting, as if we're the first to experience it. Turning "parent" into a gerund would have been alien to our parents, which says a lot about where we are.

I used to host a radio show on NPR called "Day to Day." Whenever we did a story on parenting, the response was big. I thought, "Wow, this is really connecting with our listeners; wouldn't it be great to do a whole show or series of podcasts on this topic?" But being a mom with a full-time job, I couldn't really find the time.

Soon, I had all the time in the world: NPR canceled the show, and I lost my job. So I downsized from NPR's swank Culver City studios to my closet, which my husband gallantly soundproofed. I bought some audio equipment, and "Parenting on the Edge" was born. Earlier episodes, which I posted at, covered topics such as what children should not be learning in preschool (their ABCs); the social dilemmas faced by stay-at-home dads; why a family gave up everything (car, home, retirement fund) to travel the world; and how to have a good conversation with your child. (Start by not asking, "How was school today?")

Now I'll be here, writing and podcasting regularly for And with "Where the Wild Things Are" in movie theaters, "Parenting on the Edge" turns to the topic of children's books, specifically bad children's books that have become classics. (Subtitle it: "Why I Despise 'The Giving Tree'?")

Looking at that list, a unifying theme doesn't exactly leap out. But they are all stories that speak to my desire to challenge the often-paralyzing societal pressure to get it right. I think we're all a wee bit neurotic, and the plethora of information out there probably is not helping. My hope is that this podcast isn't one more anxiety-producing parenting log on that huge bonfire, but more like a place to cool off, relax a bit and realize that: a) you're going to be OK. b) so is your child. c) this parenting thing can actually be a lot of fun. And when it isn't, slap on a pair of headphones, and hang out with me on "Parenting on the Edge."

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