Learning To Read Between The Lines


Did anyone else learn to read from the 1970’s from Mac and Tab phonics books?

The set is still around, but markedly different from the vintage version. I still have that old, unsanitized collection.

For instance, in the first book, Tab (a cat) eats his friend Mac (a rat) because Mac ate Tab’s dinner ham. Heck, he was hungry and Tab was napping, right? A few books later, in a book entitled Mac Is Safe, Tab turns himself in and the Vet cuts Tab open. Mac is saved, no worse for the wear.

The stories are illustrated. Yes, there is one page with a dead appearing Tab laid out on the operating table with a gaping hole in his belly.

No joke.

(I would post a picture of it but I am not sure about the copyright.)

I let my son read these two books last night and he was sobbing until I took over and got to the part where Tab wakes up from the anesthesia.


Crisis averted.

Except, maybe not.

He woke up several times last night. This whole morning he has been obsessed over whether or not Mac and Tab are really OK after all.

These stories made a huge impression on me. Not in a negative way. I just remember the operation very vividly. I am not sure what possessed me to let my son read them, except that I was excited to show him a piece of my own childhood now that he is starting to read himself. And hey, I didn’t turn out too bad myself, did I? Well. Don’t answer that.

Note to self: Avoid kiddie horror stories before bedtime in the future.

Tune in tomorrow for the dreaded schedule-a-teacher-conference-because-of-your-son’s-behavior note…


50 thoughts on “Learning To Read Between The Lines

  1. ha! smiling at your comment about parent-teacher conferences. I was recently asked by the teacher to attend my stepson’s conference because I seem to understand him so well. This should go great, as the bio mom hates me. A whole additional layer to the parent-teacher conference 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I learned to read about the same time as you but somehow missed those books. I do recall Dick, Jane and good ole Spot. It does feel odd when you share something about your childhood to have it met with some reaction. Sorry to hear you had to deal with notes and a parent-teacher conference. I hate to think it but I gave my mother a few grey hairs with those.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Don’t know those books. We didn’t learn to read the phonics way, we had Janet and John books.
    About the teacher parent conference. Just think that you care enough to go. I remember when we had parent teacher evenings, only the parents of the kids you really needed to see never turned up.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post! Most of the Brothers Grimm stories are frightening and terrible. I once read (a psychologist on Fairy Stories) that such stories let the child wander “safely” into danger and they survive! Forbid all horror and they end up not facing the travesties of life! (Don’t know if it’s true or not, but long live Hansel and Gretel!)

    Liked by 1 person

      • They did (frequently) cut open the wolf in stories to release: Little Red Riding Hood’s Grandmother, mother goat’s 7 kids, and… etc. Interesting post and comments! Regarding parent interviews, as a retired teacher it were the parents that took their kids’ side against the teachers that annoyed me. Lovely supportive parents often equated with lovely supportive children!

        Liked by 1 person

      • The old story versions are awesome! But my kiddos freaked out on me when I suggested a bean plant we were growing might grow up to reach the giant’s castle so we could steal the goose that lays the golden eggs. OMG. Terror.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I read “The Velveteen Rabbit” to my kids to share a piece of my childhood with them. I remember being enamored with that story — toys were real to me long before Pixar. My daughter did not feel the same way, and boy-oh-boy she she cry. She wept, shoulder shaking, body quaking tears of such immense sorrow I thought we’d never get back from that one. After lots and lots of hugs and talking about the power of love, she recovered. And then wrote every one of her stuffed animals a letter telling them how much she loved them so, just in case, they’d be able to be real should any foul befall them.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Children today seem much more delicate than we were as kids. I’ve often pondered whether that is a good thing or a bad. I think I’ve decided that it is a bit of both.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I absolutely love your blog!! I look forward to reading it every day. You are so articulate, funny, and really interesting! I started reading it after the “Scary Berry” blog. She is a friend of mine. I thought that was so clever! Keep it up!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I grew up with Dr. Seuss books. “The Cat in the Hat” “Sam I am” “Green Eggs and Ham” ….. I just pulled that out of my brain! Do you know it have been probably at least 40 years since I even thought of those books? YOU triggered that! Yes! I LOVE childhood stories and yours as well!!!! Yes do avoid stories to give your son nightmares. LOL That’s a tricky one! xx Amy

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Pingback: Learning To Read Between The Lines | Home Sweet Home WY

  10. Oh no ahaha! I’ve just been learning about the true stories of a lot of different fairy tails. It’s mortifying. I never did like fairy tails even as a kid. I found them creepy. Now I know why.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. What a coincidence! I was just watching old fairy tales and stories on YouTube the other night and came across a story called “The Wolf and The Seven Kids” and it was quite ridiculous and somewhat frightful, with all but one of the kids (baby goats) eaten. Later the Mother goat comes home and finds the one kid left, they go in search of the wolf and find him sleeping stretched out under a tree. Mother goat sends the one living kid left to fetch her scissors and needles and thread. The wolf is cut open with the scissors as he sleep and the kids who were swallowed whole all JUMP OUT and are fine! Large rocks are then sewn up into the body of the still sleeping wolf. Later, he tries to drink water from a pond and the rocks are so heavy he falls in and drowns. The end, yay for creepy children’s stories LOL

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Great post. We homeschool and use these books called Life of Fred to supplement our curriculum in math. A building falls on a man in it. Really not bothersome at all to me in context. But it bothered my kids enormously. Strange, I thought! But that’s the way it was. Silly little things! 🙂


  13. Being from the Dick, Jane and Spot generation, I thankfully missed Tab and Mac. These coming back to life after being eaten stories bring out my logical side: Kids, DON’T feed the hamster to the dog, because we won’t be able to bring it back alive. It just doesn’t work that way. I stopped reading Curious George books to the kids after realizing that in the first book, George was captured from the wild and wondering, What happened to his mother? Sorry to be so serious, but I love animals. We sure enjoyed some Dr. Seuss silliness when my kids were young. I too, look forward to reading about your teacher conference, having had so many of those with my day dreamy, “off task” kids, who are now adults (technically) and still dreamy, but independent, sort of.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Hahaha! You’re son just may not be into doctor stuff like you were. What intrigued you worries him. I’ve had a few things like that happen myself. I say okay, different direction with this child! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Like most of us, I chose stories for my son where nobody dies, nobody gets hurt and nobody eats their friends. He had nightmares anyway.

    But I often wondered how the world survived with Grimms Fairy Tales — and Disney. Mothers die, children are eaten, thrown into the woods to die, turned into stone, into animals … The lesson was probably that life sucks then you die.

    Liked by 1 person

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