Saturday, March 9, 2013

Parental Censor

I am a firm believer in the full accessibility of literature. The written word is powerful and becomes even more potent when attempts are made to censor or forbid. But the words don't have inherent power, the human action in response to the words are the power. The most passionate of ideas would turn to dust without one person taking them to heart and making them come alive.

Today I threw away one of Purslane's books. And I am asking for opinions from my readers (you) as to whether or not that is a slippery slope to parental fascism.

I won't tell you what the book is because some of you who are parents might have been given the same one in your child's stocking for Christmas last year, or you might like it. It isn't really important what the book is, anyway. The important thing is the action of parents making decisions about what they want their children to read when the issue isn't harm, illegal or inappropriate content.

My issue with this book is that it is DUMB. It really is one of the stupidest children's books I have ever read and every time Pursy wants to read it, I (sometimes) keep my eye roll hidden. I really hate reading this book. The content is terrible, the cadence is wonky and the illustrations are pedestrian. Pursy is not aware that there is one more page to the book because I have not been able to read the last page since I read it the first time. I just can't read it again.

I thought maybe it was just me and my high regard for literature and the importance I place on my children being exposed to good books and loving to read. Then I watched my friend Bec reading the book to Pursy and just the tone in her voice as she tried to get through it made me realize that it is just truly and of its own accord, a dumb book.

So today as I was cleaning up her room, I threw it in the trash can. In the laundry room of course, because if she saw it in her trash can it would be back on her shelf in a three year old minute.

I feel like I did us all a favor. I think it would be better for the book just not to be around then her watch me unsuccessfully try and hide my disdain. I could try harder of course, but have not been able to up to this point.  I feel like my energy would be better served somewhere else, because as a mother of two babes under the age of three, I have an energy daily quota.

So what is the consensus, did I do the right thing? The fair thing? Kyle Stedman, I know you have an opinion...


  1. So, ideally, I think it would be best if you never had the book at all, but seeing as the little bugger made its way into your home, I think it's great you got rid of it. Pursy is at the age where you can somewhat control what she reads, and you want to make the most of it, which is great. Because here's the thing...someday, she will be picking the books, and you want to make sure she's doing a good job. By modeling that now, you're teaching her.

    Here's an example...when I was growing up, I wasn't allowed to watch rated R movies. I can remember being at a sleepover in 6th grade, and the girls chose a rated R movie to watch. I knew I wasn't allowed, so I called my mom to ask for permission. And she gave it to me. But you know what, I chose not to watch the movie anyway. And I made that decision because of what my parents had modeled for me. Heck, there's still a couple rated R movies to this day that I've stopped watching because I just didn't care for the content. But I probably would have never made those decisions if it hadn't been for the modeling of my parents to choose with discernment.

    So I say, bravo, Christy!

  2. I agree with you about the danger of censoring literature, but as parents, we are in a unique situation. I believe, a parent censoring media content, regardless of the medium, is important. Ideally, no one knows your child as well as you do. You know when it is best for them to read what. Furthermore, you know what type of person you want them to be. As you said, words are powerful and what we do with them, even more so.

    Rowan and I are working through a similar situation. There is a book Rowan wants to read. A book all of her friends are reading. A book I actually love. But I've told her she is not allowed to read it until she is the age of the character in the book. Though the book is well written, some of the content, I feel, is inappropriate for her age. So, I haven't said, "No." I just don't want her to read it now. And you know me, I'm already building a collection of my favorite books to give the girls when I think they are old enough. Books that are so much a part of me, I want to share them with my daughters--and this book is amongst this collection. Just not for now.

    The conundrum, however, is how do we, as parents, foster the desired character in our children. I think that is a fair thing to consider. We are molding the adults they will become. That is a responsibility of paramount proportions. One that should not be taken lightly. As such, I believe it is my duty to encourage my daughters to read and do things I believe are worthwhile. But I have to admit, I allow Rowan to read some books that I think are DUMB, simply because she enjoys them. But the key, here, is that I don't have to read them to her. She is old enough to read them by herself.

    Ultimately, I think it okay to get rid of a book you hate having to read to your child. If she were old enough to read it herself, that might be different. There is some enjoyment that can be had reading a mindless book, sometimes. But the fact is, no one should have to repeatedly read a book they dislike. It's a form of torture, if you ask me. So, though it is difficult for me to imagine you throwing away a book, I think you probably did everyone a favor. Pursy will be smarter for it, and you will be saner--which is a win-win for everyone involved.