When Reading to a Child Goes Horribly Wrong

We all know how important it is to read to our children, we’ve heard all the reasons for taking the time to sit down and share a story with our little ones.

As a lover of reading, I am thrilled that my children adore books. It’s always exciting to have your children enjoy the things you do.

Every year, my Aunt buys so many lovely books to give to the kids for Christmas and, when we’re all staying together, there’s always someone willing to read their new books to them. This year, my cousin Gem and Aunty Meredith read The Wonky Donkey.

The description for the book says;

In this very funny, cumulative song, each page tells us something new about the donkey until we end up with a spunky, hanky-panky cranky stinky dinky lanky honky-tonky winky wonky donkey.

And from what I remember there were giggles. Mostly, from the readers of the story as the Donkey’s tale of woe unfolded. At one point, the bird who is telling us about the Winky Wonky Donkey and his physical attributes mentions his one missing eye and, from what I can gather, there is a picture where the bird has the donkey’s eye in it’s beak. At this point, there was a little banter about the story and the picture, before they continued to the end.

As they finished the story, Ellie asked why the bird had taken the donkey’s eye and was completely distraught by the thought.

There were tears and freak outs. She requested that the book and accompanying toy be put somewhere that it couldn’t upset her again and so the Winky Wonky Donkey disappeared. While there was some talk about it from Ellie while we were still all together, I honestly thought she would soon forget and not be so effected by the connection she drew between the words and the pictures.

However, the donkey and Ellie’s distress comes back at the strangest times. I can be making lunch or we can be out walking and suddenly we’d be on the topic.

Ellie: I’m thinking about something naughty
Me (shocked): what is it you’re thinking about
Ellie: A bird taking the donkey’s eye

We have had many discussions about fictional stories, about birds, about donkeys and I was starting to think we were moving on. And then, we went shopping.

More specifically, we went shopping in the book section of Big W as I am finding the time to read at night when all the Munchies are in bed, but it was a mistake as right there, in the middle of the isle were many, many Winky Wonky Donkey’s with their missing eyes.

So, we’re back on the subject. And we’re not allowed to go to the book section of Big W anymore.

It’s possible she’s scarred for life and will have some kind of weird fear of birds, donkeys or maybe both. I am wondering if there was the equivalent story about a cow from, like, 20 something years ago? It would explain a whole lot…

The poor darling. She is a tender soul and I will be sure to read every book first from now on. Have you had this kind of issue? I can’t help but wonder what other, seemingly innocent books I need to steer clear of.

Flogging my blog with the ever lovely Glowless.


  1. Poor Ellie, never heard of the book though.
    It does make you think twice about making good choices in books. I hope Charlie & Chocolate doesn’t scare my boys off !

    • Thanks Trish. My dad always read books before I did even as a teen and I am thinking this was why!! Hoping they’re enjoying Charlie & the Chocolate Factory!

  2. My Max is obsessed with this book. Crazy, but I never even noticed the bird-eye thing. I’m sure she will recover and love this silly book again. x

    • I’d never heard of it before this and all of a sudden everyone around me is raving about it! So weird. I have a feeling it may be a while before she’s over it! I was looking at another donkey book that seemed so lovely – you know, to change her thoughts but she told me off! No donkeys allowed apparently.

  3. Isnt it amazing what freaks the little ones out. One of mine was like that with a version of Henny Penny – totally freaked him out to the point he had to see me chuck the book in the bin. What the??? 🙂 xx

    • I know! I wish we could pop into their heads and see what’s worrying them so often. Funny little things.

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