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<p> I know that a lot of us turn to older books for our precocious kids when they are young because many of the modern Young Adult books have content we are uncomfortable with. </p>
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<p>However, a lot of the older books have assumptions and stereotypes about race and gender that make me just as uncomfortable. DS1 is not interested in talking about books at a level that allows me to really address these issues in any depth.</p>
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<p>How do you deal with those issues?</p>
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<p>TIA</p>
 

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<p>It doesn't neccessarily take a LOT of discussion. I remember when DD was 3, I read her "Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle" which I remember LOVING as a child. I was pretty shocked at the gender biases as well as parental approaches that we didn't approve of like spanking. Instead of making a big deal of it, I just said something like "wow, this book has some really different ideas from us" or when we came to something that suggested mom couldn't handle a very simple problem without dad, I'd say something like "boy, we'd be in bad shape if we had to wait for daddy to decide EVERYTHING" or "imagine how tired Daddy would be if he had to work all day AND solve all our problems when he got home."  If we came across something racists, I'd just drop a comment how times have really changed. That sort of thing was enough to give the kids "permission" to disagree with authors and still be able to enjoy the story and take interest in the period in which it was written.</p>
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<p>I don't know how old your child is but I think the trick is to keep it light and not turn it into a larger discussion than it needs to be. A simple line about how silly a certain mentality seems now was enough for my kids.</p>
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<p>I would be concerned if my dc were limited to only these kinds of books to inform their views and didn't have any exposure to other books, films, diverse communities, role models, etc. to broaden their perspectives on the world.</p>
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<p>If we read something in an older book that raised a flag (eg. racial stereotypes), I pointed it out and I might try discussing it with them. Sometimes they just weren't interested in unpacking cultural bias during storytime and they just wanted the story to continue. So I'd try to find something to balance it out. For example, I might follow up <em>Little House on the Prairie</em> with <em>The Birchbark House</em> or a collection of aboriginal legends or a visit to Summer Solstice celebrations or a historic site. I might circle back and remind them of the original problematic text if it was opportune, or I might just let the new story or experience insinuate itself in their minds. </p>
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<p>Some of my feminist friends are extremely sensitive about gender stereotypes. They were quite restrictive about old-fashioned books with their children, but that wasn't something I worried about too much. I knew my dc were growing up in a modern society, with many examples of women and men fulfilling a variety of traditional and non-traditional roles. Fiction wasn't likely to trump the reality they lived with on a daily basis. My radar is more likely to pick up on racism and classism. I think classism in particular is pervasive in older children's literature (much of which was being written for middle and upper class children) and much more difficult to tease out and deal with than sexism or racism, which tend to be fairly obvious and in-your-face. I think a lot of children have a fairly good sense of the injustice of sexism and racism.  There are obvious good role models around them to counter-act fictional stereotypes that they run into. Classism and entitlement continue to be current social problems though and I think it's harder to fight them. </p>
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<p>we have done the same as the above poster- with soooooooo many books out there this is such a small issue for us</p>
 

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<p>I should also admit that we've been fortunate to live in cities with a lot of cultural diversity.  We know a lot of families with working mothers and fathers, as well as a few working moms/stay-at-home dads too. If we lived somewhere with fewer resources, less diversity and mostly traditional families, I might be more concerned about the amount and kind of fictional feedback my dc were getting.  </p>
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>ollyoxenfree</strong> <a href="/community/forum/thread/1285827/books-with-outdated-ideas#post_16120905"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a><br><br><p>Fiction wasn't likely to trump the reality they lived with on a daily basis. </p>
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Totally agree with this. Especially since for young voracious readers the books they read are a multitude of fleeting experiences. </p>
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<p>My kids aren't the type to want to sit down and discuss with me the books they've been reading either, but our readalouds are a great place to do that since as the reader I'm in control of the pacing of the story. It's easy to casually pause and comment on stereotype, loaded language or other thoughts or concerns I have about the how the author is spinning the tale. And many other things: alliteration, allusions, foreshadowing, character development, parallels with other stories and so on. So this is a pitch to keep reading aloud to your kid for many reasons, one of which is to remind him that there's a fallible person who is a product if his time and culture behind the words that are written.</p>
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<p>Miranda</p>
 

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Discussion Starter #7
<p>Thanks for the replies.</p>
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<p>I actually do what whatsnextmom and ollyoxenfree describe, but I have been wondering if it is enough.  This discussion came up in a conversation I was having with some other parents and I really wanted to get a wider perspective on it. </p>
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<p>It is getting harder for me to be active with regard to specific fiction now that DS1 does more independent reading and more reading of books I haven't read.  So, the conversation becomes more real-world based and less directly related to the fiction.  But, I think that is okay.  I think I'm really adjusting to a new parenting role as he becomes more independent.</p>
 

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Discussion Starter #8
<p><br>
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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>moominmamma</strong> <a href="/community/forum/thread/1285827/books-with-outdated-ideas#post_16120969"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a><br><br><br><p>My kids aren't the type to want to sit down and discuss with me the books they've been reading either, but our readalouds are a great place to do that since as the reader I'm in control of the pacing of the story. It's easy to casually pause and comment on stereotype, loaded language or other thoughts or concerns I have about the how the author is spinning the tale. And many other things: alliteration, allusions, foreshadowing, character development, parallels with other stories and so on. So this is a pitch to keep reading aloud to your kid for many reasons, one of which is to remind him that there's a fallible person who is a product if his time and culture behind the words that are written.</p>
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<p>Miranda</p>
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<p>Thanks for the reminder on the value of reading aloud.  I am really struggling to make time for reading aloud with DS1 at the moment. Our whole schedule is shifting as the sleep needs of the kids change and I need to build a new routine for reading aloud.  We both miss it.</p>
 

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<p>i was raised by multiple generations of feminist bookworms, and I read all the traditional literature, and loved it all--even if there were sexist concepts in them. my mom taught me early on to look at the year a book was first published, and evaluate it based on what I knew of that time in history.</p>
 

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We have always talked about it too, but it's much harder now that she reads independently. (She doesn't want me to read aloud to her anymore, alas.) She piped up with something weird about Indians when rereading Little House books lately, and we had to discuss it. I'd editorialized (and censored!) when we read those aloud, but now, of course, she has no one there to point it out. It does worry me a bit, but then we talk about these things a lot as a family. She has a very advanced feminist consciousness for a 6yo, I must say. She always notices when animals are referred to as "he" when there is no way to know. In fact, she doesn't like the way our field guides deal with male and female plumage. "Why does this say "Cardinal Female" and the male is just called "'Cardinal'? Why can't she be called the Cardinal and he be called 'Cardinal Male'?" (That amazed me, that she perceived that.)
 

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<br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>spedteacher30</strong> <a href="/community/forum/thread/1285827/books-with-outdated-ideas#post_16122791"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a><br>
 my mom taught me early on to look at the year a book was first published, and evaluate it based on what I knew of that time in history.</div>
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<p>Likewise it helps to remember that values we carry today may be evaluated very differently later on, and try to use the opportunity to question practices and ideas we encounter in our own lives.</p>
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<p>Enjoying this discussion... I had raised a similar question regarding the Little House books some time ago and was referred to Herbert Kohl - a very fine writer who addresses this topic in some of his books / articles. </p>
 

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<p>I think that finding time to do some reading together is a good approach. We get all sorts of questions when we read outloud. It also helps me see where they are developmentally with some of these ideas too. One of the things about gifted kids is that they're often sensitive to stereotypes and injustice. Ds objected to dd's Rainbow Magic books because "all the boy characters are always bad and all the girl characters are always good". We had a reasonable discussion about gender stereotypes.</p>
 

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<p>since my son doesn't really yet read independently it hasn't been a big issue b/c we discuss as we go along (something like, "back when this book was written, people thought that girls couldn't do so-and-so, but now we know that's not true...") he does spend many hours pouring over comics and there is content in some of them (tintin, scrooge mcduck, and the moomin stuff) that I am not totally comfortable with, alas.</p>
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<p>I try to discuss with him when it comes up or if I have specific concerns about his understanding.</p>
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<p>My parents read aloud to me until I was 9 or 10, though I read chapter books independently at 5. I think it was great to have that opportunity to discuss the meaning of stories (and for them to assess my developmental readiness for certain stories and concepts I am sure!)</p>
 

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<p>when dd was younger if she didnt notice i didnt say anything. as she grew older she had others to ask about first hand experience - life before civil rights mvt that her gpa led, the boarding school experience that our friend suffered. </p>
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<p>as she grows older of course we can talk a little. </p>
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<p>but i dont really offer anything unless dd brings it up. however i have really stopped reading to her by 5. reading would put ME to sleep at the end of a long day, but dd would be awake raring to go. </p>
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