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#1 of 15 Old 09-24-2013, 12:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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dd read quite a bit of nonfiction in picture book form when she was 5-7 but now she is ready for heavier literature but is mostly turned off by the nonfiction in the children's section.  (I am not very sure why but I have some hunch ....  in their effort to be appealing, they go overboard and sometimes oversimplify things or talk down to the reader.)

 

I read almost exclusively nonfiction - science, politics, social science.  Some of it is accessible to her but I find myself holding back due to the foul language that is used almost routinely.  WHY?  We don't use foul language and I don't want to introduce it to her before it is necessary.  

 

So I am thinking of looking for books written before foul language became so routine.  I hope they are as interesting as the ones written today - I often read aloud to her from what I am reading and she finds it very interesting.  

 

any suggestions?


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#2 of 15 Old 09-25-2013, 04:45 AM
 
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I'm a bit confused. What/who are you reading that uses foul language in nonfiction? Or maybe the better question would be what do you consider to be foul language? I can't think of anything I've read as nonfiction, particularly in the subjects you mention, that uses foul language.

 

As far as recommendations, I don't have any off the top of my head. I would suggest finding out what she would be interested in and then maybe see if there's a site like the one for movies that will "rate" the book and tell you if it's suitable for kids, and explain what might be considered unsuitable (like the movies, it'll say X times of nudity, X uses of the word ______, and so on), then you could plug in book titles and determine whether it's okay for her to read certain books - alternatively, you could read them yourself first (or at least skim them).

 

Or maybe the librarian could help with this, too. She might be able to not only recommend books, but give you a general idea of what might not be okay for a kid to read. Our local library has several categories of library cards, such as a kid's card that only allows the child to check out books from the children's department, an adult card that lets you check out anything in the library, and a number of intermediate areas in between the two - including one that allows you to mark specific books as being unacceptable for your child. They keep a list of those books for parents to peruse in case we're not sure exactly what we want to restrict, but know we want to restrict some, to give us a jumping off point to say, "Oh, yeah, that was one of them." Maybe your library has a similar list that you could use to try to point you in a direction to at least have some that you know are probably a no-go - and the librarian might also have a list of alternatives to those books that would be okay.

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#3 of 15 Old 09-25-2013, 08:51 AM
 
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I too am not quite sure what sorts of books and what sorts of foul language you're concerned about. My 10-year-old enjoys Bill Bryson -- A Short History of Nearly Everything has kept her occupied for quite some time. Also Jay Hosler's graphic novel style books about biology and evolution have been huge hits. Most of Dorling Kindersley's reference books targeted at middle-schoolers have been enjoyed here. With more specific information about you're looking for, and what books have been problems, I might be able to suggest more options.

 

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#4 of 15 Old 09-26-2013, 05:38 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I am reading:

 

Me the People - about the history of the US Constitution - what went down at the convention, etc.  Written by a satirist but with a lot of real history in it as well as and sharp interpretation of the various clauses and amendments.

 

How to Be Black - again, written by a comedian but with a lot of true social history / thoughtful comment as well. 

 

An Atheist in the Foxhole - inside story of a journalist working at Fox News. 

 

All of these are really interesting yet are abundantly sprinkled with four letter words and at times sexual references which are casual at best and degrading at worst (eg. in one of the books the author refers to a shuttle bus between two colleges that they used to call the "sluttle bus" - I don't really want to start explaining what that is).   I don't notice them when I read them myself but when I read aloud I have to skip.  I know she will be exposed to all this someday but I don't see why it needs to be now.  

 

For the time being I have gone with my standard move of seeking out books written ages ago (like I have to do with fiction :lol) and started reading Surely You're Joking Mr Feynman which she promptly picked up and read a couple of chapters of.   Need to seek out more like that ... and also I had better try to read ahead of her to make sure there's nothing in there either (!) -- she reads a lot faster than me. 


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#5 of 15 Old 09-26-2013, 09:04 AM
 
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when i was a wee one, i remember this kid-aimed series of biography books. they were probably around a hundred pages each, had an illustration or two smattered in there. my mom took us to the library constantly and after i discovered harriet tubman through this series, i went back and read lots more from the series. i believe that was at the same time i was reading judy blume & beverly cleary. there's got to be an equivalent thing out there today, probably an even wider selection! can't comment on how PC those books were, since i was dinky when i read them, but presumably if they had problems with being too patriarchal, they've been edited to be more sensitive in recent years? sorry that wasn't more helpful, but i know there's gotta be stuff out there that uses kid-appropriate language, even if the vocabulary is unfortunately also a bit scaled back for your kid's reading level. but not every bit of reading needs to build vocabulary, i suppose? some of the reading is purely about the subject matter? i dunno, but i sense i've begun rambling! good luck with this!

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#6 of 15 Old 09-26-2013, 12:08 PM
 
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I wonder if the problem is not so much one of not being able to find books that are free of foul language as that the books that tend to pique your interest as an adult reader interested in social / ethical / political issues tend to be those that are a bit edgier than are optimal for a pre-teen. I mean, satire, stuff written by comedians, exposés about contemporary media conglomerates, I think those books would be fascinating but they're likely to have rawer, more "mature" styles.

 

My 10-year-old and I always have both a fiction and a non-fiction book on the go that we read together (either in tandem individually, or aloud to each other). If I'm the one picking one of those books I make an effort to choose something for mutual interest and appropriateness.I really enjoy looking for these books, so while I suppose there's sometimes a fair bit of digging involved for me it's very fun. We read a lot of science this way, and some history and philosophy. So far we haven't done much social commentary: that's more likely to be a minefield, I think. Recent hits: the Bill Bryson I mentioned above, "Napoleon's Buttons," Jay Hosler's "Evolution" graphic novel, Larry Gonick's "Cartoon History" books, Joy Hakim's "Story of Science" series, books on natural history by Stephen Jay Gould, "Philosophy Rocks," hmmm... I guess that's most of what we've done in the past year. Social commentary we tend to approach through fiction, via dystopic YA novels, from more of a metaphorical angle. That seems safer somehow.

 

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#7 of 15 Old 09-26-2013, 12:58 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Yes, I guess I haven't been searching with this in mind.    We have read several books together, fiction and non fiction (she's read all the Murderous Maths books and I am trying to catch up with her) and we could do more of it if I put a bit of effort into finding stuff that worked. 

Thanks for all the suggestions Miranda, I will start looking for them.  Incidentally I want to say that this is not necessarily the best sample of what I read :lol.  But I guess these are the books that were at a relatively easy reading level.    Hmmm.


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#8 of 15 Old 09-26-2013, 01:02 PM
 
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You mention reading at 5-7, how old is she now?

 

I wonder if she might be at an age where you could begin talking to her about inappropriate language and it's occasional use in things she might read. My 12 yr old, for example, has really developed a thing for wanting to read scary books and was begging to read some of my Stephen King. Of course, King being King, there usually is a fair amount of foul language, but I didn't want to turn off my son's desire to read, especially since it's rather new for him to actually want to read. So I found one that had less of the foul language, and that the language was slightly less foul than some of his other pieces and then sat down with my son. I explained that this isn't the kind of language he should be using, and that even if he did use it, he'd need to understand there's a time and a place, and all that jazz. I made sure he understood that, in context, he could use those words with me (say, to ask me what _____ means, because he can't figure it out from the context, or to say that he finds _____ to be more offensive than ______ because of whatever.), but that aside from that, these words weren't to be used by him under any other circumstances.

 

Of course, he's 12, and I don't know how old your daughter is, so she might not be mature enough for that yet. But I'm just thinking if she is, that might be one way that you could find more for her to read. Another way to handle that, too, is that if/when she's reading books with that kind of language, you could talk with her about how the author could have gotten their point across without using that word - could they have done away with that word and still have the same impact? Could they have used another less offensive word in its place, and if so, which one? Does she think they used it for the impact or just for the sake of using it (since I'm not sure how acceptable bad language is on here yet, I'll use less offensive words here, but you could insert the more offensive ones in your own head - did calling that guy a jerk prove a point about his behavior that couldn't have been proven without calling him a jerk or did the author just call him a jerk because he didn't like him and it was a fast and easy way to insult the guy?)?

 

Although, again, I still suggest a chat with your local librarian - or maybe a rabid reader that works at a local bookstore. I'm thinking they should really be able to help guide you toward some books that would give her what she's looking for while still avoiding the things you aren't ready for her to read yet.

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#9 of 15 Old 09-26-2013, 02:49 PM
 
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haha, i'm just thinking to myself reading that, that calling him an a**hole makes a distinct and clearly different impact, flavor-wise, from calling him a jerk. i am biased, though, in that i don't understand why we arbitrarily forbid including some mean/angry/expressive words from children's vocabularies, while allowing others. if the idea is that they should speak kindly, the words we know as expletives comprise such a small segment of the list of words that won't be used to achieve that. not trying to criticize anyone who feels differently, but i plan to teach my kid by example that there are fun and very appropriate ways to use this subset of colorful, dramatic words. that's more of a linguistic inclination than anything else, i guess.

sorry if this got a bit tangential to the topic! i'll reign it in from here on out so as not to hijack the topic (not my intention)!

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#10 of 15 Old 09-28-2013, 12:08 AM
 
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Joy Hakim does a series on American history iirc that I think is very good - History of the US? She's been slated for her leftwing viewpoint, which is only a bonus for me.

 

My 10 year old recently really enjoyed Stephen Hawkings book George and the Universe, iirc. Its aimed at kids so no swearing. He's got a decent reading age, from what I can see, and certain can read, say, Bill Bryson, but he's also entirely fine with reading something easier. I also keep meaning to dig out Sophie's World for him. He will mainly go for fiction though, or very specific how to books (how to build an arduino robot) which I don't think is what you meant? He likes Asimov and scifi generally, I don't know if your daughter might like that? Older scifi tends to be mainly "clean", (though with some surprising exceptions).

 

I have to be honest and say I've never filtered for language. I mean, my kids know these words as well as when not to use them. If they are appropriate and in context I don't have a huge problem with them-tbh if anything I think it reinforces the idea that these are words you should generally not use, by showing kids when they are used. I have to say, I like Feynman's stuff a lot but I had a bigger problem with his attitude to women than the minor swearing in his books. Take out the physics and it is kind of "frat boy tales". My son actually really, really likes Feyman (from having seen some of his old lectures-I am a chemistry student) but I've hesitated to give him the book. 


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#11 of 15 Old 09-28-2013, 06:01 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for that tip about Feynman.  I would be concerned about that as well.  

 

Please do continue suggesting titles from older sci fi - haven't even explored that yet. 

 

I agree with what some of you are saying about accepting the words, etc.  I am just taking it slow at this point.  

I also have to choose better books for myself I think.   


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#12 of 15 Old 09-28-2013, 08:48 AM
 
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haha, i'm just thinking to myself reading that, that calling him an a**hole makes a distinct and clearly different impact, flavor-wise, from calling him a jerk. i am biased, though, in that i don't understand why we arbitrarily forbid including some mean/angry/expressive words from children's vocabularies, while allowing others. if the idea is that they should speak kindly, the words we know as expletives comprise such a small segment of the list of words that won't be used to achieve that. not trying to criticize anyone who feels differently, but i plan to teach my kid by example that there are fun and very appropriate ways to use this subset of colorful, dramatic words. that's more of a linguistic inclination than anything else, i guess.

sorry if this got a bit tangential to the topic! i'll reign it in from here on out so as not to hijack the topic (not my intention)!

 

Also OT:

 

I just read a great book for those of us who love the language thing:  "Holy Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing" by Melissa Mohr.  Exceptionally readable and informative and just well-writen all around.  Highly recommended.

 

Back to :sipthe topic at hand now.....


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#13 of 15 Old 10-04-2013, 04:43 AM - Thread Starter
 
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All right ladies, I am neck deep in quality, clean, non-fiction now. 

 

I think that I have to change my selection process - usually I just go to the "new non fiction rack" where the best selling new non fiction is kept and get something from there.   


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#14 of 15 Old 10-04-2013, 09:01 AM
 
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All right ladies, I am neck deep in quality, clean, non-fiction now. 

I think that I have to change my selection process - usually I just go to the "new non fiction rack" where the best selling new non fiction is kept and get something from there.   

wait, so, the "new nonfiction" method is the old method that wasn't working, or is the new one you've discovered that's landed you neck deep in good books? if the former, what is this new strategy that's working out so well? =)

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#15 of 15 Old 10-04-2013, 05:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Filamentary, browsing the "new nonfiction best sellers" was disproportionately turning up results with profanity.   

 

Now I have gotten recommendations from this list and other librarians' lists and it is leading me to stuff that is G rated, as far as language is concerned.  


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