06-10-2007 04:32 AM
08-16-2007 12:51 AM
08-16-2007 12:57 AM - edited 08-16-2007 01:07 AM
Message Edited by writerm on 08-16-2007 01:07 AM
08-16-2007 01:01 AM
09-03-2007 11:02 AM
I've read all of the gory fairy tales (haven't yet done greek myths), but I read Rapunzel, Hansel and Gretel, and Cinderella, and I did not water down the gauging of eyes, and cannibalism in these tales. They were around 2 and 3 when I started with the fairy tales. I read Bettleheim's book when I was in college (for a children's literature class) so maybe that is why I didn't feel the need to water it down at all. Kids like justice, so that kind of goriness (As long as it happens to the bad guy) usually does not frighten them.
At 3 years old you have no idea what might frighten a child. My 3-year old neice was told lots of scary, monster stories and they never affected her, however after watching Annie (the movies and the plays) she stopped sleeping in her bed. My sister couldn't figure out what was wrong, then she found out that she was afraid she was going to be an orphan like Annie, and have to live with Ms. Hannigan. That was far more frightening to her then monsters amd bloody deaths. Who would have thought that? If a child shows an interest in something, read it to them, then gauge there reaction.
My son showed an interest in religion when he was 4, I am not a religous person, never read the bible, and I was a bit uneasy about the topic. However, I bought him a picture bible and started reading it to him. I treated it as literature, not as religion. I honestly had a really hard time with a lot of the old testament stories. Abraham's God is a pretty manipulative, jealous, and ruthless fellow, and many of the stories, for example the Tower of Babel story--seemed to spread an opposite message from what I hope to teach my children. But, I still read it with him, and got myself a bible so I was familiar with the original pieces so I could discuss it if he had questions. However, he was drawn to the nativity story (one I felt comfortable with) and the crusifixtion (I remember being drawn to that story as a kid as well). That is a gory and scary story, but it has its appeal. That was one he wanted to talk about. I wonder if my attitude toward the stories contributed to his interest. I was really uneasy about the first few stories, and tried to rush through them to get it over with, but I took my time with the stories I liked.
I think that the more taboo you make something, the more drawn they are to it. I remember being in 5th grade and getting one of those scholastic book club order forms. There was a book there (I don't remember what the book was) that had a warning that students need parents' permission to order it. That afternoon I went to the library and took that book out (never told my mom). I was disappointed that there was nothing really racy in the book (but at that age was reading Steven King and V.C. Andrews so I guess I had different expectations for what constitutes a racy book). As for books today, I think that When "Kambia Elaine Flew in from Neptune" is one that parents should be aware of. Not that it should be banned, it is a good book, the main character is a very strong and positive character, but it deals with tough issues like prostitution, child abuse, and teen pregnancy. If your child is reading this you should read it and be prepared to discuss it. I think the best thing to do is to not make anything off limits, and read everything they read. Pay particual attention to books on banned lists (because you can bet that if there is controversy about a book, kids will do whatever they can to make sure they get that book in their hands).
09-04-2007 05:27 PM
10-09-2007 07:07 PM
Yes and no. I'm thrilled if my 14-year-old daughter voluntarily reads. I haven't always been thrilled about her book choices, which have included book-form episodes of TV shows like "Charmed", "I Know What You Did Last Summer" and a few other thrillers. An after-school book club introduced her to "Aimee" which I haven't read, but read enough reviews about to learn the subject matter was intense: Suicide and self-mutilation. Still, not out of line for her age and maturity level, I don't think.
I do monitor what my 10-year-old son reads. We read quite a few things together and it's amazing how much "children's literature" contains bad language these days! (That's something I don't think anyone has discussed on this thread yet.) Even Harry Potter swears (if I don't "bleep" it out when I read aloud my son censors me!) I totally nixed Artemis Fowl after a few pages. I just though he was a horrible person!
As for violence, while Greek myths and even the original version of Grimm's fairy tales are in my opinion too-intense for three year olds, even young children understand that people who do bad things should not go unpunished. That's justice on the most basic level. Maybe not very Christian but very primal.
Finally, I remember reading "Thornbirds" when I was 14. I wasn't supposed to go back my mother's bookmark, but I couldn't help myself. There were a few graphic scenes where my mother asked "Did you understand that?" Well I didn't, not really, but it was the STORY that mattered to me, not the sex scenes. I pretty much skipped over those in my innocence. Maybe that wouldn't happen today, but I can still hope.
10-10-2007 04:17 PM
Teens Editor, B&N.com
10-16-2007 09:03 PM
Fairy tales started out as cautionary tales that served a practical purpose. My daughter, who works for Disney and has always loved their movies, etc., is also a writer with pretty strong feminist leanings. The two things don't seem to go together, and it's something we've talked about often. If you look at the Disney stories, how many of the princesses have no mothers, and are "saved" by the hero? Lots. But the stories still serve a purpose, just as Barbie dolls do. Kids can love them and play with them without wanting to emulate them. There have been several papers written on this topic -- they make fascinating reading.
I am a big Disney fan. After defending Disney to everyone for years I did a paper comparing Disney's version of stories to the originals. Disney versions are much easier to read to a child than the originals. The story of Cinderella is very symbolic with the Birds being the spirit of Cinderella's dead mother. At the end of the Grimm Brother's tale the birds swoop down out of a tree and peck out the step sister's eyes. While Disney's Cinderella might not be the most "girl power" kind of story it still portrays a woman who is kind, forgiving and falls in love with a man because of who he is, she does not even know he is the prince. It is a story of hope and courage to go on.
I have a 10 year old daughter who loved all of the princess stories growing up and now she has moved on to strong female characters in other books. She cheered when Hermione punched Malfoy in HP and the Prisoner of Azkaban. The boy deserved it and the character was strong enough to do it. I monitor the sexual content of some of her books. There are things I don't think need to be explained just yet. Sometime her reading/comprehension level leads her to books that are above of her maturity level.
10-16-2007 09:12 PM
Personally, I did monitor movies and TV but I figured if they went to the effort of reading a book, or were interested enough to read it, I wasn't going to stop them. There have been a lot of letters in my local paper debating having The Secret Life of Bees in school libraries. I remember when the "hot" book was Gilly Hopkins, and the Alice books by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor are also controversial.
With my kids, if they read a controversial book, my husband or I would read it, too, and we'd talk about it. We also bought our kids those books Everything a Teenage Girl/Boy Wants to Know, which are more explicit than some parents like. But I felt like all kids have questions, and I'd rather trust a book than the internet or their friends. And with books, if we gave it to them, they were more likely to talk to us about their concerns. This wouldn't be everyone's cup of tea, but as far as I'm concerned, it worked for us. My kids are still very open with us and I don't worry as much for that reason.
Becke brings up a larger issue related to monitoring kids' reading choices, which is banned books in school libraries. Has your local library had any "problem books?" Especially with the advent of Harry Potter 7's release, this is a timely topic - I know that the Harry series is one of the most contested. In fact, I recently heard about a mother in Georgia who was campaigning to get the series removed from her local school library because she claims it promotes witchcraft and is therefore not appropriate for children.
There are religions that believe witches to be real threats, they are the devil's work. Books like HP make children want to be cool like that and therefore want to be a witch. My daughter loves imagining that Hogwarts is real and the shock that would come if she got an acceptance letter. My friend will not read them to her children because she feels it is against her religion but she does not condemn me for reading them and loving them and passing them on to my children. She just asks that the girls don't watch the movies or read the books when the kids play at my house. It is just a matter of respecting other peoples opinions and not trying to force your opinion on others.
10-16-2007 09:24 PM
What kind of society are we living in when we can't trust our children with reading? Granted there may be times when certain materials are a bad choice for kids of a certain age, but all you really gotta do is read the back. Yes, read the back if you have to, but what are you gonna do when your 14 year old daughter brings home a book and starts reading it, not knowing what's in it, and finds some parts of the story are a tad graphic?(regular books) Are you honestly gonna sit there and read the entire 300pg novel before she does just so she is spared 2.5 pages of one love scene because you're that paranoid? Really. Parents are always thinking they've got to protect their kids. Well, protect them from online predators and kidnappers and people who want to harm your kid - protect them from OTHER PEOPLE. There comes a time when the parents have to realize when they can step away for a moment and let kids learn for themselves. I'm all for making sure young kids are away from very adult shows and websites, too, and kids don't understand violence or sex as older adults do, but you have to be open to questions. Here's an idea - create a rule that certain things, such as graphic violence, etc. is only for use between family in the house, and used anywhere else is forbidden. I plan to do that because I don't want to censor my kids and I want them to ask questions, but I do understand that some subjects (personal or other) are reserved for certain people and places. I'll give my kids the feeling that nothing is off limits to them as long as they learn to handle it with care. So, I'll probably get a lot of slack from this, but all I'm trying to say is that it's a little psycho to look at what your kids read because you don't know how your kids will take in the subject matter. Just reinforce the fact that violence is reserved for self defense, TV, and not to be used during any other time. Sex is a beautiful thing reserved for people when they are older to understand love and trust with another person. Just reinforce things and your kids will get them. They will have a greater understanding of the world around them and you'll have a greater understanding of them.
This is great but there are kids younger than 14 out there reading too. And sometimes a perfectly harmless book might have inappropriate matter in it. I just started reading a book with my daughter, who at the time was 9, and the book had a page and a half about how the young man narrating the story came to the conclusion that he was attracted to the men in underwear ads. This was never included on the back panel of book. And this is not something that needs to be addressed at this age in my home or out in public. She has been around homosexuals but just doesn't see it yet because she is too young. So even though I trust my daughter with literature; I don't always trust that an author is writing for my daughter.
10-16-2007 09:32 PM
Thank you. I thought Artemis Fowl was just a horrible little person who I didn't want my kids to be like. I also nixed Junie B. Jones when my daughter was younger because of all of the name calling and Junie was just fresh. It wasn't behavior I wanted to see in my own kids.
11-15-2007 05:28 PM
03-02-2008 08:31 PM