captain underpants April 21


All Books Count by Jen Vincent

My office door is plastered with the covers of books I’ve read since the start of the school year. I have books on display in my office. I love to recommend books and talk about books. People know I love books and they’ll bring me articles about books or share books they’ve enjoyed.

captain underpants

Last week, one of my colleagues stopped in to tell me that he heard on NPR that The Adventures of Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey earned the top spot on the American Library Association annual list of most challenged books for the second year in a row. It doesn’t surprise me but it’s always sad to hear when any books are banned.

I think what sometimes happens is that adults judge books without reading them and giving them a chance. I also think it’s possible that adults look at books and don’t think they are worthy of their child reading. Too often, parents seem to want to push their children to read harder books instead of just letting them read what they want to read.


All books count. All books are worthy of being read. Just let kids read. More than anything, let kids to find a love of reading and trust that in time, their reading interests will grow and evolve  along with them.


But I totally get that it’s not always easy…

See, one day, our across-the-street neighbor stopped us and said she had a lot of books that her son outgrew and she wanted to know if we wanted them. Our kids are a few years younger than her son so she thought they would be just right for them. I am never one to turn down books. I was excited and let her pile the books into my arms. I wasn’t picky at all. In my mind, books are books.


Somewhere in the pile was this book:

bikini bottom bike race

SpongeBob Squarepants: The Bikini Bottom Bike Race by Scott Sonneborn snuck its way into our house. Would I have ever in a milion years bought this book of my own motherly volition? Probably not. Do I inwardly groan every time my kids ask me to read it? Possibly. Do I read it anyway? Most definitely.


My kids love it. There is one part that sends them into fits of giggles. To be honest, I really don’t get it. I’m not sure I’ll ever get it. And that’s okay, whatever makes them happy. We all have books we like more than others.


I do have to admit that as we were doing spring cleaning a few weeks ago, I added this to our donation pile. I didn’t think it would matter one way or another. But my husband saw the SpongeBob book, the only SpongeBob book we own, and he came to me to say there was no way he could let the book go because the kids love it so much. It’s not his favorite book either but he gets a kick out of seeing the kids crack up. He reminded me that what’s important is that they love the book.


And that’s why you’ll find SpongeBob Squarepants: The Bikini Bottom Bike Race on our bookshelf.

Because it’s a book that makes my kids laugh.

Because they’ll remember cracking up as their dad read their favorite part again and again.

Because even if it’s not my kind of book, it’s okay for it to be their kind of book.

Because it’s more important for them to love books than anything else.


Because all books count.


Jen Vincent lets her kids pick out any books they want at bedtime, even SpongeBob Squarepants, as long as they let her pick a book to read aloud, too. She is a Coordinator of Instructional Technology in the suburbs of Chicago. She tweets at @mentortexts and blogs at