105 Ways to Give a Book

Thursday Three: Just STOP!

I didn't want to write about the woman who is reading Harry Potter to her five year old son while censoring the difficult parts with a technique she calls "pinkwashing." The whole thing seems too stupid by half, but it continues to gnaw at me with an idea of three things that just need to STOP!

1. Stop sharing every thought as some universal truth. 
Certainly our social media has brought us to the point that people believe every idea in their heads needs a form of expression - Twitter, Facebook, or the goddamn New York Times.  Could we all agree to stop and think, for a minute or two, whether our supposed brilliance represents something other than our truth. And our truth at a very specific moment in time. I am so over caring whether marriage is improved by having children, not having children, or cage-training children. I'm done with the volley of discussion on the darkness of Young Adult literature by "journalists" who've read four books, one of which is Twilight. If you want to spout opinions on your own blog, go nuts. That's what I'm doing. Like, right now. But placing these clever thoughts in the mainstream online world lends a credibility that hasn't been earned. Which means that I'm placing most of the blame squarely on the New York Times  who needs to hear....

2. Stop whoring yourself out for hits.
Look, we expect this from the Huffington Post. They're like the nerdy, older sister of a Sigma Chi sweetheart who some weekends, when she feels particularly overlooked, has a few too many shots and ends up doing an impromptu strip tease before passing out in the bathroom. It's not pleasant for anyone involved, but it can be forgiven. You, New York Times? You're the professor who gets drunk in the college bar and talks about your failed marriage. It's embarrassing, but no one can stop talking about it. Is that what you want from years of stellar investment in your reputation? When you can publish some insight about poverty or invest in actual reporting, do you need to give voice to every person with a half-baked thought? I know it's so easy when the material is right there in front of you, but really...

3. Stop saying "Yes" when you should say "No."
This goes for major media outlets and individuals across this great nation and beyond. It's such a simple word that it forms the majority of a two year old's speech, and yet grown-ass women and men can't utter it. "No." Give it a try.  Feel how right the vowel sound plays on your tongue. "No." Understand that as a parent it isn't a word of control or deprivation. It's the word of an adult helping making adult choices for children who may not know better. So if your five year old wants to read Harry Potter and you aren't comfortable with the content, you can pick up another book instead. I know. Revolutionary. And if your child asks again, you can say, "No. It's a book for later." I'm still baffled as to why the simplest solution of choosing another book wasn't an option in this story. Maybe the mom just really wanted this experience of reading Harry Potter to her kid and couldn't wait. To that, again, say to yourself, "No." Because all you're doing here is ruining the pleasure of reading the right book at the right time. Put the book down, and back away. And keep it to yourself, because we don't need to know. 

11 comments:

Jennifer Donovan said...

Love it! I love that as parents we CAN be gatekeepers to what our children read and watch. It's not censorship, it's good sense.

You hit on it perfectly with "ruining the pleasure of reading the right book at the right time."

I didn't "let" my 5th grader read Twilight. She lost interest, but finally decided to read it in 8th grade.

Now she's 15, and she's the one banging the drum in regards to what my 9 year old son reads that "You can only read a book for the first time ONCE."

tanita♥davis said...

::snort::
Oh, Huffington!! We expect your drunken excesses... heee!

Jen Robinson said...

Ah, Pam you are a breath of fresh air. Cheers to only reading a book for the first time once. I've been conscious of this as I think about what to read aloud to Baby Bookworm. I'm DYING to read Clementine to her, but even that, I'm waiting until she's a little older, and the school bits resonate more. Plus I want her to remember it.

We actually did attempt to let her watch the first Harry Potter movie, and she was the first to say "Umm, maybe when I'm older." It was a good lesson.

Oh, and yes to the idea that you can say no (and should, as a parent).

Charlotte said...

Lovely!!!!

Jackie said...

Yeah, you'd think the New York Times would fact check by talking to someone with some knowledge. And by fact check I mean investigate whether the writer is off her gourd. It's all clickbait and it's getting on my nerves.

aquafortis said...

Yes, seriously on the clickbait issue. (I know I went off on that a bit at Kidlitcon, too--having to do it as part of my paid job is a little icky.) I love "You can only read a book for the first time ONCE." Word.

Kelly J. said...

What's great is that you weren't even in Austin when Leila and I had a whole lengthy conversation about this (I don't think -- I think we had it on Friday morning).

This is great Pam.

Jennifer said...

I once had a parent refuse all offers of picture books and board books because her infant "is super smart and only likes chapter books and I'm reading Harry Potter aloud right now." okaaaay.

Melissa Fox said...

AMEN, sista.

(That said, all our kids had HP read aloud to them at around age 5, without editing. Maybe they CAN handle it with some discussion along the way? Amazing.)

Jennifer said...

It wasn't so much the reading aloud HP to an infant (this was an infant infant - about 2 months old I think) it was that she so flatly refused all board books or even picture books. It goes the other way too - I have had parents scold their four and five year olds for picking "baby books" i.e. picture books instead of chapter books or easy readers.

Abby said...

AMEN, SISTER!