Let Junie be Junie

The Junie B. Jones children’s books are irritating to some parents, as The New York Times reports in this story. The books’ titular narrator, a child who goes from kindergarten to first grade in the series, uses unconventional grammar and spellings. Will this lead young readers to make the same mistakes in their own writing? Is Junie B. a good role model?

All I can do is offer anecdotal evidence. My 7-year-old son has read several of the Junie B. books, and he seems to be unharmed. He’s also apparently unscathed by the scatological tales of Captain Underpants. Despite the “anything goes” grammar of both of those book series, my son is still finding typos in the sports section of our local paper, and he points out errors that he sees in road signs. And he corrects me when I refer to the series as “Janie Jones” (the title of an old Clash song).

As a parent and copy editor, I am not worried about the influence of these books. Let Junie be Junie.


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