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Instead of an outright ban, try a compromise: "For every two books from Objectionable Series A, why don't you try one of these." Then, make sure you have a few appropriate alternatives around. Offer to help build your child's personal collection by buying one book each week (and indicate which, if any, titles are not on purchasing list. Suggest your child borrow less desirable titles from library.) Draw on knowledge of teachers, librarians, and children's booksellers when looking for suggestions. There are also several reading guides that list dozens of titles by age, subject, and reading level (100 Books for Girls to Grow On, Shireen Dodson, Great Books for Boys: More than 600 Books for Boys 2 to 14, Kathleen Odean, or Canadian Children's Books: A Critical Guide to Authors and Illustrators, Raymond E. Jones and Jon C. Stott are a few such handbooks).
One constructive way to encourage kids to try books outside their reading comfort zones is to reinstate family reading time. Sometimes, when children reach end of their interest in picture books we stop reading to them, but even teenagers enjoy a good novel shared in installments. With older children, take turns reading to each other and also alternate who chooses selections. This is a great way to introduce your kids to some authors they may not be willing to try on their own.
Recognize that children do not grow up in a strictly linear, well-organized way. When your 12 year-old digs out his collection of Berenstain Bear books, this is a perfectly normal way of returning to a secure, pleasant and familiar place. There's no need to censor here, either, by making a disparaging remark about 'reading something a little more appropriate' or, even worse, donating collection to local daycare when your son is at school.
Taken collectively, it is vast array of subjects and approaches that makes world of books (like wider world those books represent) so exciting. Teaching your child that it is quite acceptable to read a book and dislike it, or read a book and completely disagree with author helps create a critical reader capable of forming carefully considered opinions. Opening doors to new reading material is one of best ways to expose our children to vast complexity of world around us. Closing doors with heavy hand of censorship doesn't provide same opportunities for growth, discussion, and development of critical thinking skills. And is that not what reading is all about?
Censorship Mini-Quiz 1.Which of following authors made it to 1999 Most Challenged Authors list (compiled by Office for Intellectual Freedom in USA)? a.Judy Blume b.Robert Cormier c.Stephen King d.Lois Lowry e.Christopher Pike f.Phyllis Reynolds Naylor g.J.K. Rowling 2.What was first recorded incident of censorship in Western history? 3.Which of following titles have been banned? a.Madame Bovary (Gustave Flaubert) b.On Origin of Species (Charles Darwin) c.Les Miserables (Victor Hugo) d.The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Mark Twain) e.Ulysses (James Joyce) f.A Farewell to Arms (Ernest Hemmingway) g.Alice in Wonderland (Lewis Carroll) h.The Merchant of Venice (William Shakespeare) i.Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck) j.As I Lay Dying (William Faulkner) k.Little Red Riding Hood 4.What two books did Plato feel were inappropriate for immature readers? 5.What was first printed book to be banned in England?
Answers. 1. All of them. 2. The condemnation of Socrates for blasphemy and corruption. His death sentence was handed down in 399 B.C. by Athenian Assembly. 3. All of them. 4. The Iliad and The Odyssey 5. The New Testament. For more information on censorship and book banning, visit http://www.bookspot.com/features/bannedbooks.htm Or http://www.ala.org/bbooks/
Nikki Tate is a writer and storyteller from British Columbia. She is the author of the Tarragon Island juvenile novels, the Estorian Chronicles (a YA fantasy trilogy), Jo's Triumph (historical fiction for young readers), and the StableMates series of horse novels.
Tate also works as a freelance writer, writing on subjects from tattoos to compost. Her articles, reviews, and opinion pieces have appeared in publications in Canada, Japan and the USA.