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Have you heard of Captain Underpants? I found our first book at a yard sale for fifty cents, back when my oldest was just getting into chapter books. I knew right when I saw it that he would love this series. I was right!
Underpants, silly capers, sensational titles, disgusting descriptions, and tons of great potty humor; these books have everything a young boy could ever hope to find in a book!
Moms Captain Underpants Series Review
Written by Dav Pilkey, the Captain Underpants Series takes place in Piqua, Ohio (the Underpants Capital of the World!) The plot centers around George and Harold, two best friends in the 4th grade who pass the time in school by getting into interesting shenanigans.
A few of their shenanigans include rearranging the letters on signs, using the office copier to duplicate their hand drawn Captain Underpants comic books for sale on the playground, and pulling other silly pranks around the school.
Both boys are loathed by their principal, Mr. Krupp, who is dead set on catching George and Harold in their delinquency so he can expel them from school. After the friends are caught on tape implementing their latest pranks, Mr. Krupp blackmails the boys into doing chores at his house. George and Harold are worked mercilessly, with no end to their suffering in sight until they order a 3-D hypno-ring, which they use on Mr. Krupp to make him forget about the blackmail and the evidence he has on the boys. George and Harold get carried away, and hypnotize Mr. Krupp into thinking he is the main character in their comic book, Captain Underpants! Hilarity ensues.
The series continues with each book adding more layers to the plot, with new villains to defeat, more problems to solve, extravagant inventions to play with, and new friendships to build. Each story builds off of the previous, creating a rich reading experience as the series progresses.
Building Better Readers
The Captain Underpants books are ridiculously fun to read; I looked forward to reading them to the boys at bed time so I could see what happened next! Pilkeys writing style keeps kids engaged with the story, which makes them want to read for longer periods of time.
Doug, my oldest, is an early reader. He left Kindergarten reading at a third grade level. Now, in second grade, his reading skills are very advanced. I attribute his success with reading mainly to these two things:
- He is read to every night before bed
- Dav Pilkey uses HUGE words in his books
The gratuitous use of incredible adjectives not only paint a vivid mental image for the reader, they also help to increase a childs vocabulary as they practice reading longer words. Take the following pages, for example (please prepare your gag reflex):
The use of illustrations on each page is also a great tool to keep the readers engaged. Pilkey is an amazing illustrator and captures each of his scenes in excellent (and sometimes disgusting) detail.
Captain Underpants Book List
The Captain Underpants series currently consists of 12 books, 2 activity books, and 3 spin off books. Each book in the main series picks up right where the previous book left off, so it is important to read these in order.
Main Series Titles
- The Adventures of Captain Underpants
- Captain Underpants and the Attack of the Talking Toilets
- Captain Underpants and the Invasion of the Incredibly Naughty Cafeteria Ladies from Outer Space (and the Subsequent Assault of the Equally Evil Lunchroom Zombie Nerds)
- Captain Underpants and the Perilous Plot of Professor Poopypants
- Captain Underpants and the Wrath of the Wicked Wedgie Woman
- Captain Underpants and the Big, Bad Battle of the Bionic Booger Boy, Part 1: The Night of the Nasty Nostril Nuggets
- Captain Underpants and the Big, Bad Battle of the Bionic Booger Boy, Part 2: The Revenge of the Ridiculous Robo-Boogers
- Captain Underpants and the Preposterous Plight of the Purple Potty People
- Captain Underpants and the Terrifying Return of Tippy Tinkletrousers
- Captain Underpants and the Revolting Revenge of the Radioactive Robo-Boxers
- Captain Underpants and the Tyrannical Retaliation of the Turbo Toilet 2000
- Captain Underpants and the Sensational Saga of Sir Stinks-A-Lot
- The Captain Underpants Extra-Crunchy Book o Fun
- The All-New Captain Underpants Extra-Crunchy Book o Fun 2
- The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby
- Super Diaper Baby 2: The Invasion of the Potty Snatchers
- The Adventures of Ook and Gluk: Kung-Fu Cavemen from the Future
Are These Books Appropriate?
Simply reading the titles and looking at the cover art of these books, many people who have never actually read the books are easily swayed into thinking the books are completely inappropriate for their kids.
Allow me to illustrate the two main arguments against the Captain Underpants Series, along with my rebuttal to each:
Are They Too Gross?
Descriptive talk of underpants, toilets, and boogers, using the planet Uranus as a recurring setting throughout the series (with applicable jokes about said planet inserted at optimal times), can lead one to believe that Captain Underpants is just too disgustingly gross for young readers.
I suppose this is a valid concern. However, you cant deny that kids really enjoy some good toilet humor. Captain Underpants definitely appeals to kids who do. I have frequently caught Doug awake well past bedtime, given away by his uncontrollable giggling as he reads these books in bed. I can never bring myself to tell him to stop and turn off the lights when hes enjoying reading so much!
By the time my 3rd little boy was born, I made the decision that I wouldn’t try to curb my kids enthusiasm for fart jokes and gross humor. I have tried my best to ensure they don’t go too overboard with the hilarity outside of the home, and I haven’t received any complaints so far!
Because of this personal decision that was made years ago, I do not think that the Captain Underpants books are too gross for kids. I hope I can count on you to make your own informed decision about whether or not to allow these books into your own collection.
Are They A Bad Influence?
George and Harold are troublemakers, thats for sure. Some of their shenanigans include:
- Super-gluing an audience to their chairs
- Pranking the teachers on a regular basis
- Ruining classmates science projects
- Ruining a school football game
Yes, George and Harold get into trouble. Their actions could lead some people to believe that children who read these books will lead them to act in a similar manner.
Its well known that children are very impressionable. Because of this, I believe that it is important to impress upon them the importance of good manners and good behavior, using tools such as these books to help. For example:
Ha! Look what George and Harold did, that sure is funny! But how do you think all those kids felt when they got covered in butterscotch pudding at the invention convention? How would you have felt? That was actually pretty naughty, huh? Lets see what happens next
As parents we cannot allow our childrens main education to come from media such as books and television. These can be great resources to assist in teaching important life skills to our kids, as long as they are given proper direction and additional resources from us.
Because my kids are influenced by my husband and I more so than what they read or watch, we have never had problems with them emulating the naughty behavior they read about.
Additionally, its important to note that the problems caused by George and Harolds actions are always solved by George and Harolds combined genius. Was the school destroyed by the Turbo Toilet 2000? Have the Incredible Robo-Plunger robot you created rebuild it before it takes the defeated villain to Uranus!
TL;DR: No, books are not a bad influence on kids.
Heres a wonderful video by the author, Dav Pilkey, on giving children the freedom of choice when it comes to reading, with which I agree 100%!
Captain Underpants Series Review
- Engaging plot-lines and illustrations
- Ridiculously funny
- Complex characters
- Showcases the importance of problem solving skills
- Keeps kids engaged and interested in reading MORE!
- Might be a little too gross for some parents tastes
- George and Harold are a bit naughty
The Captain Underpants series is an excellent choice for young readers. The publisher has them marked as for ages 7 to 10, but I know that younger kids enjoy these books as well! We started reading them when Doug was only 5 years old, and he absolutely loves them! I highly suggest that you add this series to your own home library.
Book Series: Captain Underpants
For Ages: 2nd grade level and up
Price: Varies, single books range from $3.62 to $9.99
Best Place to Buy: Amazon.com
I hope you enjoyed my Captain Underpants Series Review! Do your kids read this series? What do you think about Captain Underpants after reading my review?