There’s a review on Amazon for the picture book that points out the vocabulary in the book and rates it as a two because the language is too difficult for the age range. I thought I would take a moment to tell an amusing story that addresses that.
Before the art was done I took opportunities to read the poem to my friend’s children. One friend was a nanny of two boys, four and seven. They had a friend over, a little girl who was also four. I read them the poem and it was not smooth sailing. The problem was actually worse than the reviewer made it out to be. The little girl didn’t know what a jury was. I had to stop every few stanzas to explain words or phrases. But something interesting happened. She stopped me to ask what ‘abhor’ meant, and I explained it. We finished the poem. Then her and the two boys went back to running around the back yard. A few minutes later I heard her run up to one of the boys and yell “I abhor you!”. Then she would run away and do the same thing to the other boy. She ran around the back yard for five minutes yelling “I abhor you!” over and over.
It was very cute and funny, although maybe not the best word for her to have learned that day, The point is that kids are sponges and can pick things up very fast. The only reason words like abhor and duress are ‘difficult’ is because they aren’t used in day to day conversation. But it took this little girl around a minute of my time to get a general idea of what a courtroom, jury and judge are as well as learning the meaning to duress and abhor.
I could have removed those words. I did remove some other ones, so the vocabulary wouldn’t interfere too much. But I didn’t remove them all on purpose, because I actually trust that kids are curious and up to the task of learning if given the chance. I know that approach won’t work for everyone and I’m fine with that. But I hope that most people don’t dismiss the story because of fear their children won’t understand it. It does take an extra minute, but I think that time is worth it.