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Grammar Girl Disses Beloved Children's Books

I love good grammar as much as the next self-righteous college graduate. But as a writer and, more importantly, reader, I’m willing to forgive in the name of good characters and stories that sing.

Not so for Grammar Girl, whose popular podcasts on how to use apostrophes, quote marks and words like “further” and “farther” got her a book deal and more than 25,000 followers on Facebook. In her most recent FB status update, Grammar Girl goes after the beloved series of books starring Junie B. Jones, a sometimes insecure, sometimes overzealous — often grammatically challenged — 6-year-old girl created by Barbara Parks.

Here’s what Grammar Girl wrote on FB:

Is anyone else horrified by the “Junie B. Jones” books? They’re written for kids, are very popular, and are filled with intentional language errors. Here are some example sentences:

I RUNNED all around in a tizzy.
After that I QUICK grabbed the leash.

I was literally speechless when my friend showed them to me.

At least 85 people spoke with their thumbs and agreed. Others challenged the syntax maven and defended Parks and the imaginary Jones. It seems the books are off-putting to many English teachers, who think their profession was reason enough to be turned off.

The New York Times talked to parents a couple of years ago, one who forbid Junie B. in their homes, others who embraced her full force. I’ll admit when I first read the books, I wasn’t comfortable with Junie referencing her delicate classmate as “crybaby William.” She also calls people “stupidhead.” But Parks doesn’t give us Junie B. as a role model; rather, she’s a kid struggling to figure out her world.

As the keeper of English grammar’s flame, Grammar Girl is needlessly horrified. Linguists (oh, and parents!) have long know that even if the kid says “runned,” eventually, native English speakers will make the switch to “ran” with zero instruction.

Junie B. Jones makes a lot of kids laugh, get in touch with their feelings and — biggest smartypants coup of all — get interested in reading.

Back off the Junie B. Jones, Grammar Girl. Good literature can be kind of messy.

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Photo: sodahead.com

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