Thursday, May 26, 2011

Lovingly Alice

In this week's news, Lovingly Alice by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor was pulled from the shelves of Quail Run Elementary School in the Paradise Valley Unified School District. The book is succinctly described in The Arizona Republic in this way: "[Alice's] mother is dead. Her best friend moves away without a word. Her cat dies. Her brother breaks his leg. And she enters puberty and finds out about sex."

Sounds like a typical existence of a girl coming-of-age in the twenty-first century. But do parents want their children to hear these things? Nope. Why? Because they want their children to stay innocent (though I've spoken of this perceived innocence and the harm that can come from denying information to curious children.) The article goes on,
Adults, for good reason, want their children to hold onto innocence for as long as possible. There is plenty of time to learn about the world. Let's keep them away from books and ideas that rush them along. 
At the same time, children are curious and in a hurry to grow up. They do not live in cocoons. They have access to more information than any generation before them. And they always have talked among themselves. 
It's no stretch to imagine any group of girls on the verge of puberty talking to each other as the book's characters do when they first learn about the existence of sex. That's what makes parents uncomfortable. 
So basically what's making these parents uncomfortable is not the sex, but that fact that they are not the ones in the huddle with their daughters. Okay, that makes more sense. It's a bit of a jealousy thing, right? Okay, so maybe I'm taking things a bit far, but what am I left with after so many stories of parents who want to take away the right of dozens or hundreds of other children because they don't want their own kids to read a certain book.

Basically, what I'm saying this time around is that I think parents who want control over what their children read should set up some ground rules with their children.  If they are concerned that their children will read something objectionable at school, perhaps they could set up a library day when parents and children come in and take out books together and the rest of the week the kids of these concerned parents are not allowed to take out books on their own.  

A bit extreme, maybe, but is it any more ridiculous than getting rid of a book that recognized journals and teachers can use as educational tools?  Is it worse than taking books out of the hands of children who might enjoy them?  I'll let you be the judge.

Ciao for now.

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