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The Children's Book I Wish I'd Written: 5 More That Maybe I Should

By John Cave Osborne |

We all could've written this one, no?

A close friend sent me an email the other day after having read a recent post I wrote for Being Pregnant. His note contained a link prefaced by some content which immediately captured my curiosity.

“After reading your post about how hyped up the triplets were upon your late evening return from the conference, and imagining how much fun that must have been for their exhausted parents, when I saw this link I immediately thought of you. Read about it, because it sounds like you could have written it.”

I immediately clicked over to discover the cover which appears on the left and was most curious to see whether or not it was a joke.

And it’s no joke. Well, I mean, it’s a joke in that you probably shouldn’t read it to your children, but it’s no joke in that it’s an actual book written by an actual writer, Adam Mansbach. Did you happen to read Rebecca Odes’ wonderful post: What Children’s Books Are Really Saying to You? Well, this is an example of what children’s books would be like if they were actually written out of empathy for the frustrated parent who’s likely reading them.

Mansbach, it turns out, is quite an accomplished writer. His most recent novel, The End of the Jews, won the California book award. His best-selling effort, Angry White Boy, was selected as a San Francisco Chronicle Book of 2005. He’s also a professor of fiction at Rutgers University.

But as much as I’m sure I’d enjoy his other writing, I have a feeling I’d enjoy Go the F*$k to Sleep even more. Consider this sample stanza:

The cats nestle close to their kittens now.
The lambs have laid down with the sheep.
You’re cozy and warm in your bed, my dear
Please go the fuck to sleep.

Ah, yes, Adam. Indeed. You know, after reading about Mansbach’s book on Amazon, I immediately thought of five other books which might make good sequels.

1. No Means I Love You and Hell No Means I Really Love You: this little ditty makes for ideal reading before traipsing into convenient stores where shrewd marketers put worthless trinkets at eye-level to your pint-sized loved ones.

2. Daddy Daydreams: The Disappearance of Dora and Elmo: a heartbreaking tale of how these two amazingly annoying family fixtures one day disappear for good. So sad, y’all. Especially for poor Elmo.

3. The Color of Your Bowl Will Not, in Fact, Impact Your Enjoyment of Breakfast, Damn It: for those finicky kids who get all bent out of shape about the color of their plates or exactly which spoon is offered with it.

4. If You Lose Your Blanket Again, I’m Gonna Staple it to Your Shirt: a delightful anecdote about a forgetful toddler and a creative parent who seeks to remedy said forgetfulness.

5. F#@king Deal With It: a tale of perseverance in which a loving parent repeatedly offers the same tidbit of universal advice in the face of countless minor tragedies in hopes of teaching his child the importance of resolve.

What book would you write?

And, I’m serious, you gotta check out Mansbach’s book on Amazon. It looks quite funny.

Image: Amazon

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About John Cave Osborne


John Cave Osborne

John Cave Osborne is a writer whose work has appeared on such sites as Babble, TLC, YahooShine, and the Huffington Post. John went from carefree bachelor to father of four in just 13 months after marrying a single mom, then quickly conceived triplets. Since then, they have added one more to the mix, a little boy they named Grand Finale. Read bio and latest posts → Read John's latest posts →

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19 thoughts on “The Children's Book I Wish I'd Written: 5 More That Maybe I Should

  1. CG says:

    Love your titles, especially “The Color of Your Bowl Will Not, in Fact, Impact Your Enjoyment of Breakfast, Damn It”.

    “Yes, You Do Too Know How To Do It Yourself”. That is the book I’d write for one of my twins who won’t put on her clothes herself or take them off herself, or pull up her dang blanket that she kicks off 47,000 times a night and then screams that she needs her blanket and when her twin tells her to put it on she cries, “but I can’t do it myself,” and my list could go on and on so I’ll stop here.

    “But It’s So Much Faster If I Help You Do It” is what I’d write for my other twin because she must do everything by herself, no matter what kind of rush we are in. (Side note: twins will be 3 in June)

    For their older sister, who will turn 7 in June, I’d write, “Yes, Sweetie, Life Isn’t Fair” because as you know, not all kids in the family get everything evenly every time and no, it isn’t fair now, is it?

    1. John Cave Osborne says:

      @CG — for my oldest? i’d write You Look Silly Rapping in Your Private School Uniform. But It’s So Much Faster If I Help You Do It is the STORY OF OUR LIVES! great one.
      @daria — ah, debating. excellent topic for your book, my friend. very funny, too. thanks for the comment.
      @manjari—sounds like you know of which i speak w/ the whole bowl thing, huh?
      @LogicalMama—LOL. one of my friends gave me that exact same suggestion on my FB page. LOVE IT! thanks for reading, y’all…

  2. daria says:

    love these, and your suggested titles (and cg’s too!). for my son (5 years), it would be: “you don’t have to debate everything.” for my daughter (13 months): “you don’t have to scream. i’m attending to your every need.”

  3. Manjari says:

    LOVE “The Color of Your Bowl Will Not, in Fact, Impact Your Enjoyment of Breakfast, Damn It.”

  4. LogicalMama says:

    Love your titles, but you forgot one:

    “Shut the fuck up!”

  5. Patrick (yeah, that one) says:

    Sounds like you’ve got a brilliant friend with a keen sense of humor who enjoys sharing things with you even if you never have lunch with him, damn it. And that is probably the closest I’ve ever come to giving myself any sort of respect, so write this down as a red damn letter day. :-p

    On to other news, my brain immediately started trying to write rhymes for your other titles. Screwy, but there it is. The ‘Color of Your Bowl’ is the most challenging… Maybe I’ll send the ideas to you, if I get any good ones. Just give me a co-writing credit. :-p

    1. John Cave Osborne says:

      @patrick—does this mean you’re my muse? ew.
      @papa2hapa—we’re big on no, my friend. so much so that i truly do tell my 9yo that “no means i love you.” and i swear, it’s true.
      @beta dad—we had a jacuzzi incident that freaked the trips out so hard that they’ll barely even look at that tub anymore. particularly our girl, so i feel you on that one.
      @JBoogie—first off, as i’ve said before, you have the best handle, EVER. second, your husband has a great concept there—the never ending time out!
      @juli—ah, the lovely and talented juli has struck again w/ “i don’t give a sh!t about your sh!t.” EXCELLENT work, my friend.
      @deb—are you sure no doesn’t mean repeat the question w/ more whine? b/c that’s about the size of it at our house.
      y’all’s titles are awesome.

  6. Papa2Hapa says:

    F*#ing deal with it – That’s a great title. I think many parents would help their children enormously if they only told their kid “get over it and move on” instead of coddling the child and encouraging the child to feel deeply about not getting cookies from the store. Then, I’d recommend them to read “No means I love you.” I hope you write these books and sell them on this blog for everyone to purchase without you losing a dime to publisher mark ups.

  7. beta dad says:

    I’m thinking about a couple titles lately: “The Garbage Truck is Not Here to Kill You,” and “Just Because You Had a Bad Experience with a Jacuzzi, it Doesn’t Mean that You Can Never Bathe Again.”

  8. JBoogie says:

    I love love love “If you lose your blanket again I’m gonna staple it to your shirt”. That’s a classic. From my husband: “If you tell me no again you are going in a neverending time-out.”

  9. Juli says:

    When I was potty training Roo I always made a big deal about the successful trips to the bathroom. She ended up training rather early and up until 3 I would indulge her and go in the bathroom to look in the toilet and tell her what a good job she did. Unfortunately her enthusiasm for asking me to come and check out the poop did not subside for years to come. I also went through a similar situation with my nephew. I easily could have written the books “You’re 9 And I Don’t Need to Look at Your Poop” or “I Don’t Give a Sh!t About Your Sh!t.”

  10. Deb Purcell says:

    NO does not mean “repeat the question and add some whine”

  11. Heather Patton Reyda says:

    mother of america, JCO, i did not think i could love you more. and you have proven me wrong. i am not worthy. this rocks.

  12. Life As Wife says:

    Can’t believe no one has mentioned “Because I Said So” it’s a classic in my opinion!

  13. Kristin says:

    For slightly older children, “If I Answer Your Question with ‘I Don’t Know,’ It’s Because I Actually Don’t Know and I’m Not Lying and It Doesn’t Matter How Many Times You Rephrase It, I Still Don’t F*!king Know!” But I like all of your titles much better than my own, especially 3 & 4…but that’s only because my two older ones have outgrown Dora and have shamed my youngest into thinking it’s stupid, even though she’d still enjoy it. Otherwise #2 would be my #1.

  14. Jenny says:

    I thought of my friend who has 2 toddlers 1 year apart. She’s a SAHM and I seriously think we have talked about all of there book titles, without thinking they are, or could be made into, books. Hillarious! I love it! For my ADD 15 year old it would be, “Seriously, stop talking. We’re tuned out your nonstop rambling over an hour ago.” and for my ADHD 11 year old, “Please sit down while you’re playing video games. Jumping all over the livingroom will not make your character perform any better, and NO it’s not a Wii game” For my 19 month old daughter, “Seriously, stop coloring on everything that is NOT paper or I will Paper the whole damn house!”

  15. Canuckmom says:

    For my 5 year old: saying “no” in French does not make it acceptable
    For my 3 year old: stop trying to convince me someone else peed your pants
    For my baby: why must you wait for a clean diaper to poop?!?

  16. Trish & Adam Reeve says:

    That is made of awesome.

    I shall now write childrens’ books of my own ;b

    Since Go the F*ck to Sleep has already been written, I might pen “Why Can’t You Keep Still For One Goddamn Second”, as well as “Choosing A Toy Does Not Mean Throwing Everything On The Floor Again”, the classics “You Like It And It’s Good For You, It’s Getting Cold, Please Eat It Now” and “Don’t Do That To Your Sister”, the best-selling “Turning Your Bowl Upside-Down Means You Don’t Love Daddy” and “I’m In The Toilet I’ll Be Out In A Minute Please Leave Me Alone”, the award-winning “Please Please Please Be Quiet My Brain Is Exploding”, and my personal favourite, “Poo Is Not For Touching, No Seriously Stop Trying To Touch It, For The Love of God and All That Is Holy Stop F*cking Reaching For the Poo.”

  17. the muskrat says:

    I would write “Shut the Fuck Up.” I’m sure someone else had the same thought, but that doesn’t make it any less relevant a title.

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