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Think Beyond The Mouse: A Pop Culture List for the Little Ones

The perfect pop culture education guide for your little one

Books to read, music to share, and movies to watch with your child when you’re tired of Mickey Mouse reruns

Lemony Snickets

The best part of having a child is the chance to mould a tiny mind into something fabulous (or into your own evil sidekick, whatever you prefer!). I am hundred percent willing to outsource the feeding, the cleaning, the putting-to-sleep, the teaching-how-to-climb-a-tree to others, just as long as I get to be the one who reads to my child every night.

Ah, who am I kidding!! As seasoned parents will tell me, all such efforts are probably futile and she will be her own person with her own terrible tastes just like her mother was! Having said that, there are bits and pieces of pop culture I can’t wait to introduce to her over the next few years- and these 10 are probably right on top of that list.

1. Haroun and the Sea of Stories- the best book Salman Rushdie has ever written. PERIOD. Maybe because he wrote it to his son in absentia? As a paean to the art of storytelling and fantasy itself, its lessons of wonder are just as relevant for the parent as they are for the child.


Haroun and The Sea of Stories


2. Wall-E- one of the greatest love stories ever- even if it is between two robots. And it teaches little children about the perils of waste and sloth in a much more poetic way than any documentary could.
3. The Poetry of Shel Silverstein-  There’s something to be said for an adult’s ability to speak in a child’s language without talking down to her. And every single one of Shel Silverstein’s poems represents just such a skill. They are by turns funny and gruesome and caustic- all the things little children are when we are not protecting them from all that’s ugly in the world. His most famous book The Giving Tree tells the tale of a tree who befriends and nourishes a child from birth until it is reduced to a stump by the grown up child’s needs. And his shorter poems- though funnier- are just as direct and honest.

Oh, if you’re a bird, be an early bird

And catch the worm for your breakfast plate.

If you’re a bird, be an early early bird—

But if you’re a worm, sleep late.

4. The entire oeuvre of The Beatles- There’s a right song for every age- and a lyric to deal with everything that life throws at you.  Be it your first best friend or your first love, or your need to start a revolution. We can start with Obladi Oblada and Michelle (bonus, The Beatles can teach you French!) or even the Yellow Submarine, with its pretend sea-creatures then move on to Please Please Me once she’s old enough, and end her education with The White Album and Revolver once she’s ready for them.

5. All of Harry PotterHundreds of pages of entertainment, great characters, a lot of heart and  so many laughs. But the reason I would like my daughter to read Harry Potter is so that she understands just how quickly the light can turn to darkness, and learn to embrace the troughs of life with just as much vigour as the peaks.

Harry Potter Quote

6. The Lemony Snickets’ Series- A perfect book series for your wise cracking slightly mopey youngster with a taste for the macabre. We may coddle them all we want, but most children take surprisingly well to black humour and the mordant misery of these books is just right for their pre-teens.


Lemony Snickets

7. Matilda- by Roald Dahl- one of my greatest regrets is that I discovered Roald Dahl’s books when I was too old for them and I can’t wait for Baguette to discover them at the right age. The escape fantasy that Matilda’s telekinetic revenge provides is just the right antidote to all the silliness of the adults around her.



8. The Soundtrack to Mary Poppinsbecause who doesn’t dream of a nanny like the irresistible Ms. Andrews? And because a spoonful of sugar really does help the medicine go down. And because every single song is a classic and an instant pick-me-upper!

9. Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi/ Half Ticketothers may pick Charlie Chaplin, but for us desi kids, Kishore Kumar and his manic manoeuvrings are a lot more accessible (Plus the songs, ohh the songs!!!). I remember rolling on the floor when I first saw paanch rupaiah baarah anna and even if she is not quite sure what that means any more (try paanch sau rupaiah 12 dollar instead), I hope my little one laughs too! As for the misogyny in the movies, I hope she learns to notice it and to appreciate that the world is not a perfect place- and how that doesn’t make it any less funnier!

10. Ruskin Bond and his Rusty series- Gentle tales with just the right mix of humour and pathos for little minds. Besides, what better gift can we give our children, than the love for simple things and foggy mountainsides!

What are the pieces of pop culture you’re dying to share with your perfect little monster? Tell us in the comments below.

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