“Growing up, we were allowed to read any book in the house,” writes Maria Casale in her essay for the New York Times titled “This Book is Too Old for You.” The piece has prompted some online discussion about whether or not parents should censor what their kids read. Reading those comments prompted me to swivel my desk chair around and contemplate the books on my shelves. Are there any books that have content that I feel is inappropriate for young children? Are there any of those books I would prefer that my children not read (at least until they are much, much older)?
I am a bit ashamed to admit that after some thought I identified at least three books that I own that contain content not suitable for young children.
Below are three books I don’t want my children to read, and I recommend you not allow your children to read them either.
Have you read this thing? It’s as if the author wanted to use every word he could think of! I humbly admit that I’ve never been able to follow this book’s highly disconnected narrative, but based on the profanity littered throughout its many pages I can only assume that it’s dirty. No, my children need not be exposed to this brazenly loquacious tome.
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare
This dude is clearly a pervert. His plays are filled with sex, violence, cross-dressing, and odd profanity. One play even romanticizes teenage suicide. Fellow parents, don’t be followed by the rhyming couplets! William Shakespeare is no Dr. Seuss.
This thing has just as much sex and violence as that Shakespeare stuff except the writing quality is far inferior. Plus, the character of “God” completely changes from the first half of the book to the last half of the book. What caused that change? That’s where the real story is. I would love to hear a story told from this God character’s perspective.
Okay, fine. I understand that these aren’t the books I’m supposed be be fretting about whether or not I’m going to let my kids read and, if so, when. Our bookshelves are filled with materials that may be considered much more questionable including multiple works each by David Mamet, Chuck Palahniuk, Bret Easton Ellis, and Christopher Moore. Should I hide those from my children? For how long?
Since my oldest child is only six I’m pretty sure it will be a while before he’d have an interest in those books, but what about when he does?
Banning books (whether it is in a home, a school, a city, or a country) does not make the sex and violence and “bad” words from those books go away. Parents need to talk to their kids about the right and wrong and appropriateness of those things no matter what books a kid is reading.
Yes, there are probably certain books that I’ll tell my kids would be better read “when you’re older,” but if they end up sneaking into my library and reading them anyway I’m okay with that. If my child’s rebellion takes the form of reading books I’ll consider myself a very lucky parent.
- 20 incredibly short bedtime stories for kids
- Shakespeare or The Bible: Can you identify these 15 quotes?
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