Friday, April 24, 2009

On previewing books for your kids

Yesterday, my husband and I made a HUGE mistake. We read the kids a picture book we hadn't previewed first.

I've been trying to introduce the concept of history to my 5 year old. And she especially enjoys learning about how kids experienced different times and places. So when I came across The Silent Witness by Robin Friedman at my library, I was excited. It's a kid's eye view of the civil war, from the point of view of Lula McLean - a girl who was at the battle of Manassas AND the surrender at Appomattox Courthouse.

Pretty cool, right?

Nope. Because the book features her beloved rag doll, who experiences the Civil War with her. And who gets swiped as a souvenir by a Union soldier at Lee's surrender.

And it's TRUE. My husband and I thought it was pretty cool, but the 3 and 5 year old collapsed into tears and could NOT be consoled because the little girl lost her doll forever.

Later, I asked my daughter what she thought of the book. She said, "You need to put your toys away or the evil Union soldiers might take them."

Um, no. As a proud daughter of Pennsylvania, who grew up believing that the only reason our great state was spared from the demonic hordes of confederate zombies was that they were also dumb and therefore couldn't figure out how to cross the Susquehanna, I don't WANT my kids to think the Union was evil.

But, on the other hand, they DID take the girl's doll.

Anyway, if I'd previewed the book I would probably held off on it until later.... on the plus side, my kids now have a burning desire to visit Manassas battlefield and Appomattox Courthouse. They especially want to see the doll.

(And this is an achievable goal since my Dad lives in Northern VA. They already saw (and loved) Mount Vernon. I guess Appomattox is next.)


rachel said...

Dred! You're blogging too! And writing! What fun!

I'm actually not working on comics at the moment, but on plain old prose fiction, so if you ever need a long-distance writing buddy to whine to, I'm your man! Er, woman...

julie said...

completely agree on the previewing. we made the mistake of letting liam read the _diary of a wimpy kid_ series.

great series, if you're in high school or above.

if you're a younger reader who isn't really good on picking up on the author's feelings about his characters, it leads you to believe that the wimpy kid is a HERO.

the wimpy kid is actually a pretty rotten child. now hubby and i get to deal with emulation behavior... wonderful!

Deirdre Mundy said...

Oh no! He took the Wimpy kid as a role model?!?

Better find him some good heroic stuff to read.... Does he do fantasy? (and how old is he now?)