You know how in the old Superman shows, when Clark Kent would get that certain look in his eye and his demeanor would change, you knew pretty soon he was going to disappear and mysteriously Superman would be on the scene? Well, that's me, only I'm in a library or a bookstore and all of a sudden I overhear a conversation, between a child and their parent, and they are trying to decide what type of book they should choose. When it becomes obvious that the parent isn't really sure and the child is picking out something that I don't feel is up to par, I can feel that same identity switch coming on that Clark Kent experiences. For me, instead of the cape and flying powers, I switch into Super Librarian sporting my horn-rimmed glasses and my hair automatically goes in to a bun!! :) No matter how hard I try, and I do try, as soon as the inner librarian is triggered in me, I cannot stop it. It would be just as easy to stop it as it would to stop Clark Kent from becoming Superman.
Well, such was the case yesterday when I was at the library with my two little ones. There I was, minding my own business, and all of sudden a grandmother and her granddaughter came and stood right next to me and started a conversation about which book to choose. The little girl, eight or nine, wanted a book that would scare her. The grandmother wasn't real pleased with the choice and tried to recommend other books, but really wasn't sure what she was looking for. I started to get nervous and could feel the switch coming on. I told myself to walk away, but my feet would not listen to my brain. Over the little girl's head, the grandmother looked at me, shrugged her shoulders, and sighed. Well, that did it. Super Librarian was triggered and no matter how much I tried to stop it, my horn-rimmed glasses and the bun in my hair appeared!!
They were looking at the mystery series and so I smiled back at the grandmother and found myself asking if I could recommend a book. She agreed and said she didn't really know what she was doing and could use help! :) I was standing in front of the Wishbone mystery series, a series where a dog solves random mysteries, and so I suggested one to the little girl. She said she had seen it at school, but pretty much turned her nose up at it because it wasn't scary enough. I suggested a couple others, but the little girl was determined to be scared! I wanted to yell, ''Boo! Now, are you scared? Yes? Good, then take this wholesome, classic book and read it!" I didn't! Instead, I just smiled and said, "Well, I hope you find what you are looking for," and moved on to the next aisle. My horn-rimmed glasses and bun disappeared and the inner librarian crawled back in her shell, feeling a bit defeated!
I haven't been able to stop thinking about that little girl and her choice of book. Now, I'm not saying a good mystery thriller isn't exciting! When I was younger, I read every one of the Nancy Drew, Boxcar Children, Trixie Belden, Hardy Boys, and Mandie series I could get my hands on. I loved them all and their suspense captivated me. It just seems that today's kids must have the spooky, demonized, and witchcraft type stories before they are intrigued. I started thinking yesterday what the difference might be. This is all my opinion, but here it is!
Our children grow up to like whatever we, as adults, allow them to create an appetite for while they are young. When a child is born, they are a blank page. Their desires and appetites are directed by what is allowed within their world. As parents, teachers, youth leaders, etc. we have a huge responsibility to ensure that our children do not create an appetite for the wrong type of influences. Their entertainment is a huge part of creating an appetite. Both of my girls love Curious George. They watch his cartoons at home. When we go to the library, guess what books they want! Curious George!! I know my children are young and so I only have cartoons to contend with right now. However, at five and three, there have already been times I have had to explain to them why we do not watch certain cartoons. I don't want to create that appetite in them. When we go to the library and they see a book from that cartoon, they automatically pass it by or my little one yells real loud, "We aren't allowed to have that one, are we mommy?!" ;)
A lot of what I would consider to be wrong choices in reading material for our young people comes from the parent simply not knowing what is out there. There are some really good classics that today's children are not reading because they are so in tune with the new modern writings that are not wholesome and innocent. My best friend, Jenn, has taught me many things. One of the best things she has taught me is if I don't know the answer to something, I Google it or I ask someone who does know. I don't just blindly go through life or just assume every thing will be ok and hope for the best. No, I search it out. There is an answer out there somewhere for what I need to know!
If you aren't sure what your child should be reading this summer, (and your child SHOULD be reading this summer) then Google Classic Children's literature written before 1968, ask someone who knows, do some research at the library, etc. Don't just allow your young children to choose their own reading material without you knowing what they are choosing. You wouldn't allow them to choose whether or not they were going to eat their vegetables, or whether or not they were going to the doctor if they were sick, or whether or not they were going to play with a loaded gun. Well, in my opinion, their choice of reading material is just as important. What you read as a child shapes who you are and how you think as an adult. Make sure your child is being shaped in a way you would desire.
I am not suggesting that all books written after 1968 are not appropriate choices. Some of them are great! Neither am I suggesting that all books written before 1968 are appropriate. Some of them are not. You just have to be more cautious and know what you are allowing your child to read if the book was written after 1968. Our society went through a huge change around that time and so our literature did as well.
I can't promise that my inner librarian is not going to come out any more, but when she does come out, she hopes to be able to help some child start on the path of reading amazing authors and works that will help shape their future in a positive way!