Recently while watching TV, I saw a commercial for the following product. The talking book is tested by a line of kids who really enjoy the neato gadget that talks to them in character voices when they point a magic wand device at words on a page. They are testing this alongside a "regular" book of the non-speaking variety. The company mascot (a cheerful frog) asks the final kid, who is looking at the regular book with a dismayed look on his face, if he is missing something. The boy says, "That book doesn't talk!"
This commercial disturbs me on so many levels. I never really had a problem with talking books until I saw this ad, but I am now boycotting all books that so much as utter a squeak at my child.
I want to teach my children that books do talk. The don't talk in character voices and they don't tell stories about Sponge Bob or Dora. They tell stories about Prince Caspian, Achilles, and tortises and hares. My kids will learn that they get to make up the voices, and the characters and the landscapes all on their own (did I just say I want voices in my kids' heads?).
I'm not saying that I want my kid to sit through The Illiad at age 3 and understand it all. I'm all for finding children's versions of the great books and starting my kids on those. Starting them with picture books and simple words. I want them to be read aloud to at the youngest age, hearing the stories told by Tolkein and Lewis and learning to use their imaginations.
I don't ever want to hear my kids complain that their books don't talk.