Aaaarrrr, Matey! Guess What Day Tomorrow Be?

If you guessed “International Talk Like a Pirate Day”, you’d be right.

Today’s post was supposed to be something on how parents’ anxieties about their kids literacy and numeracy has opened a huge market in toys that claim they are going to teach basic reading and math skills, and how those same skills can be taught as well, or better, by parents using nothing more sophisticated than storybooks and blocks. Honest to God.

Well, when I read the post over, it seemed kind of dry and argumentative, and not very entertaining. (And I do aim to entertain.) So I thought I’d come at this from a different tack (hey, that’s a sailing joke! Sailing — pirates — it all fits!) and present a short list of books featuring pirates for your little scalliwag.

  1. tnm-pirateThat’s Not My Pirate. Publisher: Usborne. Author: Fiona Watt. A simple touchy-feely board book with sing-song, repetitive text that babies will enjoy. Ages 0+
  2. 26piratesTwenty-Six Pirates: An Alphabet Book. Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books. Author: Dave Horowitz. Twenty-six pirates, A through Z, hope to join Captain Frogbeard’s ship in this rhyming, rollicking voyage through the alphabet. Ages 2+
  3. jackplankJack Plank Tells Tales. Publisher: Scholastic. Author: Natalie Babbitt. From the author of the absolutely wonderful Tuck Everlasting, a collection of tall stories from a shore-bound pirate who’s looking for a new, non-nautical, career.

robert-newton-486x600By the way, that stereotypical “pirate accent” heard so often (you know, the “Yarrr, matey” thing) is actually a sort of take-off of a Cornish or West Country accent from England. It’s not clear whether this came about because the areas in question furnished most of the English privateer or pirate populations, or whether the original 1950 film production of Treasure Island, featuring English actor Robert Newton in the role of Long John Silver, set the accent in stone in the public mind.  Although by the time he filmed Treasure Island he was a 30-year veteran of the English stage, able to drawl his lines with the best of them in any Noel Coward play, Newton did originally come from the West Country of England and doubtless could assume the accent of his birthplace at will.

Aye … sailin’, plunderin’, and readin’ about pirates — that be how we celebrate!


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