Cheap Thrills Thursday: Lessons In Literacy With Strawberry Shortcake

Let’s see… When this Kid Stuff Records book (copyright 1980) & record (copyright 1981) set of Strawberry Shortcake’s Day in the Country came out, I would have been 16 or so, which naturally explains why I never owned any Strawberry Shortcake stuff back in her heyday. Why the stuff seems to gravitate towards me in some sort of kitschy retro-grade, is a complete other issue — like Smurfs, for which I have no sense of nostalgia either, I do not yet know why.


Anywho, I grabbed this SEE the pictures HEAR the story READ the book set for about a buck, as I recall, making it another cheap thrill.

But, like most things I touch, it provokes a few questions…

Why were the pages merely black & white pictures? Were you also supposed to COLOR the illustrations?


More profoundly, I wonder what’s become of the progression of these kids’ books… When my eldest was little, the book & record sets had morphed to book & tape cassette sets, then to those (incredibly annoying) books with the computer chips that made noises (whenever you saw the icons in the text, you pressed the corresponding button for an audio clip). And now, the closest things I’ve seen are the video games which mainly use “pens” to read the words or stories (or, sometimes, have buttons much like those electronic books).

If the concept was based on the philosophy that being read to encourages children to become readers (and these book & audio sets were to assist parents who, for whatever reason, had no time to read to their children), then I think that’s been lost along the way. Lost with the interactivity — broken down into amusing “fun” and sold as “learning” yet.

As Gabriel Zaid (and translater Natasha Wimmer) so eloquently & concisely described in So Many Books, reading is a very complicated learned process involving the interpretation & integration of units of complex meaning into a cohesive whole. This is why listening to stories is so powerful — it is more natural, more easily intellectually and even emotionally digested. But once hooked on stories, a person wants to have the independence to select & enjoy on their own; they develop the love of reading.

So why add further fragmentation to the process? Why break reading down into even more chunks, such as distracting gimmicks of auditory bells & whistles? Why add other activities to it, such as pushing buttons, touching screens, using wands — removing one’s focus not only from the story as a whole but the page itself?



  1. Something is really goofed up with your coments. This loads looking ok but once I type a few words it disappears off the scrren, stage right. Very hard to comment without being able to see what I am typing. I could sound like a complete fool for all I know. :P

    My sister and her husband do not spend much time teaching their children anything. When I babysit, as I am doing tonight and over this weekend, I get alla buylly. They think I’m always angry with them but I am just very frustrated and yes, angry. At those girls but more at those parents. The house is always a disaster. Things are NEVER put away. You can’t walk into any room and not be greeted by toys covering the floor and sitting on every available surface. It ticks me off! Why should it be allowed to be this way. Those girls are 6 and 4 years old. I don’t expect them to cook dinner or do laundry but they could at least pick up after themselves. They do not. The parents do not bother to train them to tidy up. Toys are just dumped wherever they were last used. My sister eventually will pick it all up, maybe, if the window bloows right. or something.

    When I come out I hate being here. I feel I am stuck looking after their kids and cleaning up this disaster as well as making dinner. With whatever groceries they remembered to buy. I try to boss the kids into cleaning up after themselves. But, it really is not fair that I have to be the bad guy all the time. I keep doing it though. Lately I have been getting out garbage bags and just stuffing everything into them. Some I dump or take to GoodWill, the thrift store. I always ask the girls to begin putting things away but they don’t bother, they escape to another room or they start and then wander off. They bawl about toys I am throwing abway. But, they don’t really seem to care enough that they change their slovenly ways. This has been going on for at least a year now with the gargabe gabs

    I don’t know why the parents (my sister and her husband) do not train their children to be tidy, to value their things and their home. It really is just awufl to think what these girls will be like in ten years, when they are teenagers. It will be years and years too late to try to train them then. So they can just keep telling me what a nasty bully I am. I’m doing what I can.

  2. Laura,

    I’m not having/seeing the comment problems you stated — maybe it was a temporary glitch? Email me if the problem continues…

    As for the problem with the kids, I see that issue “everywhere” and put it off as part of the permissive parenting issue, in which too many parents seem to believe that the focus needs to be on entertaining & pleasing children rather than raising them to be responsible, respectful people. Which is not Strawberry Shortcake’s fault :p

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *