How much do you censor your child's reading? For the most part, I allow my son to choose and read whatever books he wants.
I would like to introduce you to three of my 6 year old's favorite book series:
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Stink --the main character is given this charming nickname by his older sister, Judy Moody, (she has her own series, "for girls", if you can stomach such gender distinctions), Stink loves to use lots of super silly-willy words.
George Brown, Class Clown -- George periodically lets out an uncontrollably enormous burp which magically causes him to act incredibly silly... until another burp comes along.
Captain Underpants -- a school Principal's alter ego is that of a superhero who prances around in his tidy whiteys.
Do you sense a theme?
I understand there are parents out there who really try to edit what their children read based on whether or not the content is "appropriate." (A word which means different things to different people.)
In general, I'm not one of those parents. Part of this is due to my laziness. My older son is a voracious reader, am I supposed to pre-read every single book first? But mostly, my attitude stems from the fact that I want my kids to enjoy and read books that interest them. And if that means books that heavily feature burps and underpants, so be it. Plus, I just love hearing my child giggle uncontrollably while he is reading.
I think there is overwhelming evidence to support the fact that my stance on this issue has been successful in helping me raise a child who loves to read.
Now, of course, I don't think kids should be reading, at the age of 6, To Kill a Mockingbird, or Night. Although both are terrific books, they're just not age appropriate (there's that word again!). But I think you'll agree that burping and underpants are a far cry from racism and the Holocaust.
When I was a kid I read everything, (seriously, I had no social life, all I did was read) and probably a lot of books my parents would not have thought "appropriate." I just don't think it will damage kids to read books in which not everyone is couth and properly dressed.
You wouldn't believe some of the "garbage" I read -- including all the Sweet Valley High books, which I read in the corner of the library because I was too embarrassed to check them out. Boy, did I love those books. However, somehow I managed to grow up, earn a PhD, have progressive ideas about gender roles and know that it is not a good idea to burp at the dinner table.
Right now he loves burping and underwear, but I'm confident he'll read War and Peace one day, too. Well.... at least Tom Jones.
This is a potentially huge topic and it's obvious I have not covered all the points or gone into depth, but I'm curious: do you, or do you plan to control your child's reading?
UPDATE: I should comment that I don't choose these types of books as read alouds. When choosing chapter books to read aloud to the kids, I pick out books that I will enjoy, too.