Really responsible, on-top-of it bloggers have a week’s worth of posts written in advance, so that when things happen like, oh, say, their toddler fights naps and discovers he can climb in and out of the crib in the same week…they’re covered.
Obviously, I’m not one of those truly on-top-of-it bloggers.
Fortunately, it has been a little while since I’ve put up a discussion post, and the perfect topic arose that corresponds with Banned Book Week this week, so let’s just have a little chat.
Just in case you’re new, and haven’t gotten a feel for me yet:
I support the reading of banned books.
Too often, I find the the reasons behind the banning of books involves personal beliefs. And while everybody has a right to that, myself included, I don’t feel that that right should lead to books being pulled from shelves. Nor do I believe that books that address challenging topics such as the harsh realities of bullying, violence, drugs, or gender issues be banned because we are trying to maintain the innocence of our children. I’m all for keeping my child innocent. I try to keep the books I read to my 4yo age/developmentally appropriate. We’re reading chapter books at bedtime…but not YA chapter books. There are some children/teens who need these tough issue books because that is the reality that they are living. And I’m grateful that those books exist for those children to connect with, when the time is right. And while I know there are families that are different, in my home we don’t take issue with fantasy or magic.
So. That’s where I stand.
There is some censorship in my house. I still have most of the control over what we read, since I’m often the one purchasing the books. But we are regular library patrons, and at 4.5 years old, my daughter is starting to make her own selections more and more. Oftentimes, they are authors or series I’ve introduced her to, that she returns to as favorites. But occasionally, she’ll pick up something that makes me inwardly cringe. There is one series, in particular, that is popular among her preschool friends, but whose lessons I don’t support (cheating to win, lying to get out of trouble, bribery, etc.). I like, and want, her to make her own choices, but I also want to instill the right values.
So we’ve read one or two of the books and used them as discussion. How the character made the wrong choice, and what could he have done instead? And I’ve shared with her that these books are not my favorites because I don’t like the choices that the character makes. Recently, she pulled one of these books off the library shelf and then put it back. She says that she’ll read it when she’s bigger and can read all by herself because, “I know you don’t like these books, Mommy.” I’m not naive enough to think that she will always be this compliant, but it has solved the dilemma for now. I don’t have to outright refuse to read the books, so she still feels like she is in control.
Last week, we were gifted a book that’s above her age level by a few years, but something that could be read aloud at bedtime. I would have hidden it, but my daughter saw it right away, and insisted that this be our next bedtime read. As we’re reading, I’m discovering that I don’t particularly like the type of humor that is used, at least not for my preschooler. I’ve made the decision to finish the book, doing a little censoring as I’m reading, and she doesn’t seem particularly enthralled, so I doubt she’ll ask for more after we finish the final chapter tonight. Once again, it appears that the problem will resolve on its own.
All this has me remembering my own childhood. When I was about 9 or 10, I was reading well-above grade level and in that awkward situation where what was on my reading level was not necessarily age-appropriate. My grandparents often sent me the Sweet Valley High books, which my parents promptly stored in a box for me, while trying to steer me in a slightly different direction. A few years later, I received the whole box, and devoured the series, like many other girls of my generation. But yes, I had to wait.
So what do you do at home? Do you strictly censor? Give your kids free-reign over their reading selection? Fall somewhere in the middle? Have your thoughts on this changed as your children got older? Have you run into a situation with your child where what they were reading wasn’t “parent approved” or tackled an issue you weren’t ready to confront yet?
Go ahead, sound off!