05 March 2006

Children's Literature

My children watch very little TV. But, parents being weak, we do indulge them on a fairly regular basis with books on tape. Like children, children's literature these days is remarkably honest.

One of the heavy topics that has come up more than once in my children's trips to the library is divorce. These books have more emotional depth than most of the books I read on a regular basis. But, how can a responsible parent these days say that it isn't appropriate? About a quarter of the kids in my eldest child's class have parents who aren't together. I doubt that there is a single classroom at my children's school that doesn't have, at least, one child whose parents aren't together. And, despite being in DPS, my children's particular school is very typical of the state as a whole. They have a need to know.

Even the books about children with parents who are together typically aren't idyllic. But, what set of parents don't have conflict from time to time. Again, they have a need to know, even if they are young.

The honest truth is that there are topics in real life that, emotionally, have more moment than even the issue that come up in their books. You don't have to have a PhD in educational psychology to identify a kid who in first grade is already having very serious problems functioning in a school environment, a situation for which teachers and administrators have no ready solution. Books are afraid to deal with topics like that. They specialize in bright but misunderstood delinquents, not tormented, disfunctional six year olds. But, reality has a sad tendency not to go away. And, if the school system can't handle a child at first grade, how likely is it that by tenth grade, the situation will be any better?

No comments: