Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Parental Inclusion in the Reading Process

In researching for a paper on challenges to picture books with same-sex parents, I came across this very interesting and engaging quotation, taken from The Pleasure of Children's Books by Perry Nodelman and Mavis Reimer.
[Children] have special need of knowledge as a resource to make sense of new things. Those who are deprived of knowledge of certain attitudes or forms of behavior and, therefore, prevented from thinking about why they might be harmful, are the ones most likely to take such attitudes or commit such acts. To deprive children of the opportunity to read about confusing or painful matters like those that they might actually be experiencing will either make literature irrelevant to them or else leave them feeling they are alone in their thoughts or experiences. ([emphasis added] 102-3)
This is pretty much the thesis of this blog, that to deprive people (and especially children and teens) of the option of reading books that highlight certain attitudes and beliefs (possibly contradictory to their own) is not helpful, but more harmful in the long run.  I understand that parents are only trying to protect their children, in most circumstances.  As Reimer and Nodelman say,
"In trying to protect children, however, these adults may well be doing more harm than good" (102). 
"It also deprives adults of the opportunity to discuss these matters with children, and to share their own attitudes with them. Without such discussions, adults might actually diminish their control over children rather than increase it" (103).
Just my two cents for the day, and good food for thought.  I like to think that this blog is not advocating for the removal of the parent, but more inclusion of the parent in the reading life of children and teens.  The more parents and children are involved in the reading process early on, the better children and young adults can learn to use a critical eye while reading, instead of absorbing everything like large unguarded sponges.

Thanks for listening.


  1. And the image is...? Excellent quotations, though. Nodelman and Reimer are my go-to accessible theorists of children's literature... it is a really useful and readable text.