Sunday, April 24, 2005

Our Own Worst Enemy

Now that I have a little free time on my hands, I've been going back over the listserv emails that I haven't had a chance to get to in the past could weeks. What I have seem on a particular listserv for School Library Media Specialists both surprised and disgusted me.

In almost every conversation where a popular book is brought up, some women who call themselves librarians swat it down as unacceptable for whatever age group is suggested. For example, a librarian/teacher sought help with discussion for a sixth grade class for Lois Lowry's The Giver, another woman wrote a long-winded diatribe about using such a dark, dangerous novel with such "young" children. She said the book was better for High School Students!

Now there is another poor naive librarian asking for help with A Series of Unfortunate events, and the vultures have resurfaced, screaming foul play at having fourth graders.. fourth graders! Read the series.

Some of the more lamentable comments can be found below:

"I know that these books are extremely popular, but I personally took
exception to parts of The Bad Beginning. My position has been that it's
a great series for individual kids, but not a whole class project or
read-aloud due to the controversial issues. I know this isn't what you
asked but I wanted to add my two cents..."

"I have a real problem with this 'one size fits all' approach to
books that has been mentioned in a few other posts. First, not everyone
will have the ability to read these books (they are at 1-2 levels above
4th grade level), nor be even interested in reading them. "

"Don't get me wrong, I would love to have this kind
of program available for students, but unless you are fortunate enough
to have a very elite group of 4th graders this will probably do more
harm than good!"

"Although I don't push the series until 5th grade, I have to say I am surprised that anyone thought "the objectionable" parts were handled well in the movie. Am I the only one who found the movie more objectionable?"

Heaven help us, only children who have been thoroughly tested for to make sure they are mature should be let near Lemony Snicket!


At 4:11 PM, Blogger Thomas Nephew said...

Sounds pretty inane. People act as if kids' minds are made of delicate crystal or something.

It's true, Maddie will sometimes not allow us to read more of a book to her -- this happened with "Despereaux" -- but she's not permanently damaged or something by the experience, and sometimes we've gone back to a book later on and she's fine with it.

I suppose with a group of kids you'll get one who's the most sensitive to suspense/tragedy/unfortunate events. More to the unfortunate point, his/her parents.

Still, these are good problems to have. Reading to kids sounds like a good job.

At 2:58 PM, Blogger Iris said...

Yes, Exactly.

Children are not cut crystal. They may find a book is not to their liking, or scares them, but this is not a bad thing, because they can put a book down, and talk to someone about it. And maybe go back to it.


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