I have been working very hard to catch myself up on a lot of kids' books. I've read middle grade fiction off and on for years, sometimes out loud to my girls and sometimes just for my own enjoyment. I started reading adult fiction when I was about 11 and so I missed out on a lot of those great childhood classics. I since starting the Daydreamer's Book Club at the public library, I have read at least 1 junior title a month, and when I took the job at the school, I started alternating 1 adult fiction to 1 junior fiction. As school draws ever closer, I've decided I probably need to read just junior titles for awhile.
As you can see from my Shelfari widget, I have a lot of classics picked out to read as well as some contemporary works. It's funny, with adult books I stick to 1 or 2 genres, with kids books, I'll read about anything. But I have officially come across the first book I couldn't stand -- so badly that I quit before even reaching page 50. That's pretty shocking for me with a kids book. I tried to read the first of the Dork Diaries by Rachel Renee Russell, but I couldn't do it. The language bothered me and the references to pop culture bugged me too (I'm a pop culture fan but I don't think kids as young as 3rd grade need to know celebrity girls go partying without their underwear!)
But these books are popular and the school has the whole series. I'm not going to stop purchasing them, but I'll treat them with kid gloves. I have never had a qualm telling kids that I didn't enjoy the Series of Unfortunate Events books by Lemony Snickett - I didn't like that Count Olaf told the kids outright that after he got their money he was going to kill them. I don't believe you can hide children from the realities of the world, but I also think that some of the saddest facts about mankind can be learned later on. Let them have their innocence for a while longer. I'll just have to explain that about the Dork Diaries: the kids don't need to rush into being popular or not popular based on clothes, electronics or your parent's income.