Another Reading Question: When Do You Stop Paying Attention/Worrying About WHAT They're Reading? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 25 Old 03-07-2010, 10:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm right there with the other moms trying to steer their avid readers to appropriate books. And I'm lucky that my dd wants me to read what she's read. We can't return her library books until I've read them, too (I had to read ten of her books last night to catch up). I do worry about what she reads and look forward to any and all posts suggesting gentle and positive books at or below her reading level. She's a voracious reader and it's hard to keep up with her.

So, at what point do you let go and just let them read? How will I know when we're there? Any BTDT stories? She's a very sensitive child. I'm happy to keep her relatively innocent for the time being. She's young. She's only five. She'll read 100 pages in the car on the way home if it's available to her. She's curious and inquisitive, but I don't need her reading about rape and torture or even war yet, KWIM?

It sounds like there are a lot of us in the same boat. Is anyone a little ways ahead who has gotten to that point where anything is OK for your child? I know there are some here who have said they were comfortable giving their kids free reign from the get go, so I''m not really talking about that scenario.
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#2 of 25 Old 03-07-2010, 11:41 PM
 
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I'm pretty much in the camp of giving kids free rein (with supportive advice, which they usually heeded), but that hasn't stopped me from worrying. And about the worrying ... I'm not sure it ever really stops. My then-13yo read "The Kite Runner" and I worried plenty even at that age. My middle dd read "Life of Pi" at age 9 (or maybe she was a young 10) and I worried then too.

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#3 of 25 Old 03-07-2010, 11:50 PM
 
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I stopped worrying at all when dd was 9-10 y/o. She was reading things that I knew would get into stuff that wasn't terribly appropriate for her at that point, but she had also shown me that she was doing a good job of self-censoring.

For instance, she was reading the Incarnations of Immortality (fantasy) series by Piers Anthony. Having read the first few of those myself when I was a teen, I knew that the first one had a few suicides and an allusion to a rape. Dd was okay with it, but when she got later into the series there were some discussions of violence toward women that weren't just allusions. She chose to stop reading them herself at that point. She also chose not to read a book that a friend had recommended, Speak, which is about a date rape once we discussed what it was about.
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#4 of 25 Old 03-08-2010, 06:56 AM
 
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For instance, she was reading the Incarnations of Immortality (fantasy) series by Piers Anthony. Having read the first few of those myself when I was a teen, I knew that the first one had a few suicides and an allusion to a rape.
Interesting - yesterday, my almost 17 y.o. DS made a pun about something and I told him about Piers Anthony and the Xanth series, which is full of puns and wordplay. I told him he might like that aspect. I also cautioned him about the poor attitude to women and bad stereotypes in those books. I've always thought Anthony was pretty misogynistic. So I guess the concerns about what they are reading linger on well past the early reading years.

I don't think I've ever told them they can't read anything, but I've been pretty interventionist about guiding them. The funny thing is that they don't always listen to my recommendations to read something (dd is re-reading Twilight AGAIN while Sunshine by Robin McKinley is due back at the library, but she hasn't read it yet) but they respect my advice to avoid certain books, or at least to be aware of issues with content (she agrees with me that Twilight reflects more terrible gender stereotyping and has lots of bad writing).

OP - I haven't had a child who was very sensitive, e.g. they were enjoying Harry Potter at age 6. I have made a practice of pre-reading or reading along with most of their books and discussing content with them. They trust me to be honest about my views, but open to their opinions too.

I suspect that if you have a sensitive child and that child attends school, you are likely to encounter more problems as they get older, not less. I say that because the school curriculum is filled with heavy-themed books that push personal development and social issues. A book doesn't make it onto a school list just because it's good - it has to be good for you too. (Also applies to book clubs for grown ups, but that's for another forum/thread entirely, lol!)
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#5 of 25 Old 03-08-2010, 11:24 AM
 
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It's been a long time since I worried about what my 13 year old read, but I still pay attention. I haven't been able to keep up with all she reads in years, but I have her pick me out books that she thinks I'll like and then we can talk about them. It's a lot of fun!

I trust her to make her own choices -- some of them are ones I would make for her and some aren't. Getting to the point when I was totally OK with her reading anything was a process. She wasn't reading at all at 5 -- so I've never been where you are. I just wanted to say there is a difference between "worrying" and "paying attention."

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#6 of 25 Old 03-08-2010, 01:27 PM
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We just got to this point with my 4 yr. old yesterday. I had to tell him he couldn't get several books he picked off the shelves because they were for older kids and I didn't think they were appropriate for a 4 yr. old. He's reading at a 3rd grade level now and has been steadily moving up a grade level about every 2 months since September. I'm hoping there will be a plateau soon. Also I have been teaching my son to ask a librarian for recommendations based on his reading level and other books he has enjoyed recently, so that's another adult with more kid's book knowledge to point him to appropriate books.
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#7 of 25 Old 03-08-2010, 02:43 PM
 
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i am starting to back off with my 7 year old. i notice she is not liking me butting in at all. she is really insisting on reading Twilight. we are in the process of getting that for her.

she was a sensitive issue child but i think 7 has been a breakthrough. she was not freaked out by suicide when we talked about it.

however i notice she herself chooses 'good' reading material. so i dont worry for her 'transgressions'. she never got into that awful series - i forget the name that is grammatically incorrect even though she was given quite a few of those books because little girls really like them.

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#8 of 25 Old 03-08-2010, 02:45 PM
 
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I still worry a ton about what Bean is reading, but he's seven. He is not nearly as sensitive as some of the children I read about here, but he comprehends a lot more intellectually than he can handle emotionally.

When I was about eight years old, my mother picked up a book at Goodwill called "Will the Real Gertrude Hollings Please Stand Up?" and after she had read it, she decided that it was inappropriate for me and said as much. I picked it up anyway (it looked interesting), read it, and understood why my mother had been concerned. We discussed the book, I told her that I understood why she was concerned, but I wasn't terribly freaked out by it (it was fiction, after all). She nodded, and after that she stopped pre-reading my books. She still made suggestions when she ran into books she thought I might enjoy, but she no longer read everything that I read beforehand or made decisions about what I could and could not read.

It should be noted here that my mother screened for different things than many other parents. I read the V series when I was seven and I loved them, and it never occurred to my mother not to let me read them despite the fact that it was quite gory and clearly allegorical to WWII Germany. The book I mentioned above was not nearly as violent, but it was also less fantastic-- the situations it dealt with were far more realistic than aliens coming and enslaving the population of Earth while stripping it of resources. Different things are likely to phase different parents (and different kids). I'm trying to be more relaxed about what Bean reads, but he's still quite small and I'm just not there yet.

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#9 of 25 Old 03-08-2010, 04:24 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Loving reading your input. Thanks!
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#10 of 25 Old 03-08-2010, 04:50 PM
 
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well, I think about this all the time, having a sensitive, early reader.... so I'm going to just ramble here

But, first of all, I believe strongly in the 'right to read,' and privacy to read. I think it is awesome that your daughter wants you to read what she reads, and this is wonderful for her to have someone to talk about the books with... I try to read at least one book a month that my son is reading.

But sometimes I'll read something (the Mysterious Benedict Society, for example) and will be all freaked out that it is too much for him, because he is sensitive (he's now 8, still sensitive, but seems fine to put a book down that is too intense for him.)

But he'll read it and love it. But he will stop reading something he thinks will be too much for him-- like the Harry Potter books. He loved books one through three, and at book 4, had no problem putting it down and saying, this is where I'll stop until I get bigger. He read the first 3 books in like 24 hours each. I thought for sure he would inhale the entire series... but he stopped...

He has no interest in seeing the movies, because he knows they'll be too much (too intense, etc).

So I guess a child needs to be allowed to read anything so they can develop the sense to stop reading if it is too much, or keep reading when they're fine. If I kept every book from my DS that I thought would be too much for him, I would have kept him from reading a bunch of really good books.

And more importantly, I would have prevented him from developing his own internal ability to decide when to read and when to put it down.

Now certain books, like Fahrenheit 451, he'll ask if he can read it. I always say yes, but then talk about how it might be better to wait until he was older-- And I'll typically do this through personal experience. I'll say I read that book in 6th grade, and was deeply affected by it. He decided to wait.

now my 5 year-old wants to read everything with me, no matter what. He prefers to read with me, unless it is a nonfiction book. He seems to be less sensitive then my older ds, but this might be because he doesn't want to read by himslelf, and feels more secure and wants to read more exciting books with mama ( Droon series, for example. So exciting, but not inappropriate...)

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#11 of 25 Old 03-08-2010, 07:10 PM
 
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I was a precocious, sensitive reader, as is/was DD. In fact, I think I was more sensitive. I also quickly reached a point with her that pre-reading was not possible, due both to a lack of interest on my part and the fact that I'm a slower reader than she is.

IIRC, it seems to be gr4 reading level books where themes get more "dodgy." So, keeping within the < gr4 reading level books is likely fairly safe (depending on if there are particular themes that are sensitive for a child).

I am absolutely not a proponent of worrying over reading levels. I don't read at my top reading level most of the time, so I don't expect my kids to. They've made it clear when they're ready to move up a level or more in reading by what they've gravitated toward at the library.

I found Some of My Best Friends Are Books very useful when DD was younger, and there's a new edition. I also like the lexile site, and if I find a title of interest I look at amazon for keys to themes/subject matter. DD jumped with both feet into YA fiction at 9, almost 10 after spending a couple of years happily in the gr4-7 range, which can include a lot of complex themes. This was much scarier to me than previous jumps and I've paid more attention than I did in the younger grades - so I took a break from watching but am now on higher alert.

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#12 of 25 Old 03-08-2010, 07:12 PM
 
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i am starting to back off with my 7 year old.
DD also seemed to be able to hand more emotionally complex material at 7 as well.

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she is really insisting on reading Twilight. we are in the process of getting that for her.



however i notice she herself chooses 'good' reading material. so i dont worry for her 'transgressions'.
Well then I'll hold faith that she'll put down Twilight as it is a truly horribly written book.

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#13 of 25 Old 03-08-2010, 08:04 PM
 
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Well then I'll hold faith that she'll put down Twilight as it is a truly horribly written book.
As dd told me, the Twilight series was poorly written, but the story was good enough that it was still something she enjoyed.
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#14 of 25 Old 03-08-2010, 08:21 PM
 
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As dd told me, the Twilight series was poorly written, but the story was good enough that it was still something she enjoyed.
Oh, don't get me started on Twilight...

The first book was probably the worst written from a technical stand point, although later ones have whole sections that a decent editor would have insisted on removing in their entirety as they go nowhere. It's a gr4 reading level, so it makes young girls think they're reading at an advanced level, but Series of Unfortunate Events, Harry Potter etc etc are at a higher reading level.

I have a lot of other thoughts about the psychology of the appeal of these books, but that's a whole 'nother thing.

DD read #1 and #2 sometime this year as her peer group was into them. I strongly suggested she skip the rest of the series (given that they go from the romance of a clumsy girl with a vampire to darker themes) and she went for that. She recognizes that there are thousands of better, and better written, stories out there. She also thinks the whole thing is ridiculous (yay!). Not that I may have influenced her at all .

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#15 of 25 Old 03-08-2010, 09:37 PM
 
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IIRC, it seems to be gr4 reading level books where themes get more "dodgy." So, keeping within the < gr4 reading level books is likely fairly safe (depending on if there are particular themes that are sensitive for a child).
That seems to be right. I am finding myself greatful that DS1 (6) is into fantasy and science fiction because he handles big issues in fake worlds much better than he handles real issues in realistic books. He jumped from grade 3 books to grade 6 books swiftly about a month ago, so I am still figuring out my comfort level.

So far, he has done a pretty good job of stopping reading in books that upset him. I'm watching his reading carefully at the moment in the sense of bringing home books I am reasonably confident won't upset him and watching for behavioural indications that he is being upset by what he is reading. I gave up pre-reading once he was reading real chapter books on his own. There is no way I could have kept up with him and I would certainly not have been able to do any reading for myself.

What I am doing is re-reading the 9-12 books that I am looking forward to introducing to him and reminding myself what issues are in them so that I can make some judgment calls about when to move books to shelves he can reach.

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#16 of 25 Old 03-09-2010, 09:25 AM
 
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Well then I'll hold faith that she'll put down Twilight as it is a truly horribly written book.
LOL
My neighbor asked me to preview the book, I am an avid reader, before she would let her DD12 read them. It was a loooong 3 nights. YUK!

I did, however, like the Harry Potters
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#17 of 25 Old 03-09-2010, 07:22 PM
 
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What a timely thread! DD has been reading longer and more complex books to herself lately, and the other night I caught her out reading Little House in the Big Woods to herself at bedtime. I'm glad she's enjoying reading but it is hard to pick appropriate books for her reading level that also have appropriate topics. I like reading Little House to her when we're together, but it requires a lot of explaining, and I know there are some issues about treatment/attitude toward American Indians in the later books. Until she's old enough to ask more questions about things she doesn't understand, and old enough not to believe everything she reads, I will definitely be pre-reading her books. I'm pretty sure my parents stopped trying to pre-read my stuff by the 2nd or 3rd grade, though, and I'm sure we'll get there...

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#18 of 25 Old 03-10-2010, 05:06 PM
 
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My dh and I took turns reading whatever our kids read until they were 10 or so. It gives us a chance to talk them about the ideas they encounter that are "not us".
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#19 of 25 Old 03-11-2010, 02:47 PM
 
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i am starting to back off with my 7 year old. i notice she is not liking me butting in at all. she is really insisting on reading Twilight. we are in the process of getting that for her.
DD is 11 and in 6th grade and I just gave her the okay to read Twilight. We have not allowed her to read it in the past but we talked in December about how she would like to read it and many of her friends would. I thought and thought and thought about it (I really think MANY of the themes in the series could be damaging to children who are just beginning to discover/explore their sexuality) and decided to allow her to read it. She is enjoying it but has already mentioned that it is definatley not on a Harry Potter level.

Another poster has already mentioned another issue with Twilight--- it is written at a MUCH lower level than the obvious target audience. So, realistically, DD could have read the book before kindergarten. In some ways, that may have been "safer" in that she definately would not have understood the issues I'm concerned about. I don't know... it's a hard thing. I am extremely anti-censorship, in general, but when we're talking about preserving DD's innocence and general life-view, it becomes much harder, kwim.

I thought back and when I was her age I read the year reading Louisa May Alcott and others in the same genre (who she sincerely dislikes) and Stephen King Didn't totally kill me. I'm also rethinking my current "ban" on certain music (racist songs, particularily, or rather, those that introduce racism in an accepting way--- specifically "Everones a Little Bit Racist" from Avenue Q).

DD will start junior high next year. I know that she has had a LOT more peer "sex ed" this year than in the past and assume that will rapidly increase next year when instead of being among the oldest, she is in a school with teens. So, I think my answer seems to be, "when DD started acting more like a teen/junior high student versus a child/elementary student I started lifting the restrictions." We have never banned the concepts of sexuality, racism, violence, death... but have tried to keep them within a framework we support (healthy sexuality, anti-racism, anti-violence, understandable OR obviously fictional death...). We are slowly removing that blinder and it's, honstly, more than a little scary.

 

 

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#20 of 25 Old 03-11-2010, 03:24 PM
 
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I'm also rethinking my current "ban" on certain music (racist songs, particularily, or rather, those that introduce racism in an accepting way--- specifically "Everones a Little Bit Racist" from Avenue Q).

DD will start junior high next year. I know that she has had a LOT more peer "sex ed" this year than in the past and assume that will rapidly increase next year when instead of being among the oldest, she is in a school with teens. So, I think my answer seems to be, "when DD started acting more like a teen/junior high student versus a child/elementary student I started lifting the restrictions." We have never banned the concepts of sexuality, racism, violence, death... but have tried to keep them within a framework we support (healthy sexuality, anti-racism, anti-violence, understandable OR obviously fictional death...). We are slowly removing that blinder and it's, honstly, more than a little scary.
I'm already a bit concerned about some of these things. There was a very popular song on the radio not long ago with the chorus, "Shush girl, shut your lips; Do the Helen Keller and talk with your hips." I rarely censor music (mentions of drugs, alcohol, swearing, etc) but that particular verse was SO offensive to me that I actually changed the station before the song got that far if my kids were in the car. There are a few other songs which I won't allow my kids to listen to, even though as I said I rarely censor music.

Discussions of sex and sexuality frighten me a lot less, honestly. My oldest niece Chibi is in junior high school now, and discussing sexuality requires a fine balance. Not only is she getting all sorts of messages from her classmates, but she herself is the product of a (young) teen pregnancy. Thankfully she's very independent and has a healthy sense of self-esteem. Even though some of her friends are already having sex (!!!!!) she finds that the company of boys is comfortable because they appreciate things like farting in public. Still, we discuss these things (as well as alcohol, drugs and violence) on a regular basis, and my children often overhear such conversations. We also discuss the music she's listening to, and the messages involved. YouTube is great-- she can find songs that she likes with different videos which are more appropriate. Chibi gives me hope for the future of my own kids, but it's still terrifying.

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#21 of 25 Old 03-11-2010, 03:53 PM
 
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Somewhere around 13-14yo. I remember around age 10 my mom saying No to certain things (mostly Stephen King) and in retrospect she was absolutely right. Not saying that "no" is necessarily the right answer. Reading together and then discussing the book would be another option, but I definitely think it is appropriate to continue being involved witith DCs reading choices up to that age. Sort of gradually loosening widening the options while conitnuing to add guidanxce and discuss things throughout the middle school years. And that's basically the age at which we started being allowed to listen to music with more questionable lyrics, watch MTV, more R-Movies (they had been very narrowly allowed and prescreened before then). I know that once I was in highschool I had pretty much free choice and don't recall reading/seeing/hearing anything that I couldn't handle.
She did make it clear throughout highschool that she did not approve of my choice to spend so much time reading Christopher Pike, L.J. Smith, Cherie Bennett, Sweet Valley High, etc. But it wasn't a contenet thing, more of a "why waste your time on that?" deal, and she wasn't forbidding it or anything.
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#22 of 25 Old 03-11-2010, 05:08 PM
 
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"banning" vs. allowing is tough, especially as children get older.

I have to say that I absolutely ban sexually (overtly or subtly--as in most mainstream TV ads, etc.) explicit images-- 'beer' commercials, etc. It helps being a TV free family. Once you see a picture, you can't 'erase' it from your mind. And I think that these have a tremendous influence on children and how they develop identity... for both boys and girls. The 'princess' things from Disney freak me out (and I don't exactly know why!)... but that is another tangent.

But then I remember asking my mom if I could read the Anne Rice books (when I was 14) and she said no, for what she feared was sexual material...

I read them anyway and there wasn't anything more sexual in those books then on television... 3s company?

So I don't know what I'll say when my sons/daughter asks to read a book that makes me uncomfortable, but I hope I don't just say NO

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#23 of 25 Old 03-12-2010, 01:20 AM - Thread Starter
 
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But then I remember asking my mom if I could read the Anne Rice books (when I was 14) and she said no, for what she feared was sexual material...

I read them anyway and there wasn't anything more sexual in those books then on television... 3s company?
That would most definitely depend on WHICH Anne Rice books...
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#24 of 25 Old 03-12-2010, 05:06 AM
 
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That would most definitely depend on WHICH Anne Rice books...
Um, yeah, that's what I was thinking...

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#25 of 25 Old 03-12-2010, 05:53 PM
 
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sorry ing here...

it wasn't her Jesus books, that's for sure. It was the interview with a vampire books. And honestly, I don't think there was anything shocking in them.

Of course there is a big difference between a 14 year-old and a 10 or 6 year-old. But I guess the point is that 'no' can just drive kids underground.

I hope I have a better relationship with my kids when they're teenagers then I did with my parents... but that starts now, and starts with respecting their choices and protecting them.... this is a hard line to walk.

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