A while back a friend mentioned that she was reading “The Giver” for the first time because her junior high aged daughter was assigned the book for class. “Get to the end before she does,” I warned. “Or at least get to the scene the baby twin before her. It’s a doosey.:”
She did finish the book before her daughter and was glad to have done so. That scene where you learn what the father is really in charge of doing at his job haunts me to this day. It’s gripping, terrifying and incredibly sad, but it’s worth reading.
I recommend to most of my friends with older children, as they begin to navigate their schools literature selections that it’s not about keeping books out of a child’s reach, but knowing what they’re reading and when. I encourage all parents to read the books their children are reading in school whether it’s Little House on the Prairie or Animal Farm. Be able to engage your children about what they’re reading; challenge the lessons that other take away from the books particularly if you’re worried about the lessons they might be learning from other. Encourage them to be the Devil’s Advocate in class and challenge (intelligently and respectfully) the notions of others.
This is far from a complete list, rather a short list of books commonly found on English Class reading lists. These are books that challenge our ideas of morality, government, sexuality, race and gender These are challenged books because they are challenging.
There are so many more – Black Beauty, Harry Potter, The Bridge to Terebithia, Frankenstein, Howl, In the Night Kitchen, A Light in the Attic, The Witches, Their Eyes Were Watching God, – that you’ll encounter as your children discovery their library !
I would encourage any parent to request a reading list from your children’s teachers each year This is not a stunt to control your child’s reading material, but rather to encourage you, the parent, to have a better understanding of what issues and ideas are going on in your child’s mind. You children will come face to face with very challenging reading material as they get older – I encourage you, as a parent, to face that challenge head on by engaging with your children as they read and creating a dialogue at home about the images and ideas they’re confronting for the first time.
This is not about approving of everything your child might be assigned to read at school or every book they find at the library or is recommended by a friend – it’s about walking alongside your child as they develop their tastes, interests and opinions.
Go Here to see a more complete list of challenged and banned books – what’s your favorite?
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