Many parents love reading with their kids; it’s a bonding experience — one that promotes learning and a love of storytelling.
But what happens when you’re reading a beloved favorite from childhood with your kids only to realize it hasn’t aged so well? Recently, I was excited to reread “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” with my older son. I quickly discovered, though, that it features fat-phobic language and has downright racist and sexist undertones. In the moment, I wondered, “How should I handle reading this and other books like it with my kid?”
And I’m not alone. “Even as a librarian, I’ve struggled to find appropriate read alouds for my children,” said Rosemary D’Urso, who runs a book blog and Instagram account called LibraryMom. “Like many people, I have naturally gravitated toward books that I loved as a child or stories that are considered classics. Reading them as an adult, however, has left me feeling uncomfortable at times.”
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Margret Aldrich of the Little Free Library agreed, advocating that parents address the words or themes “head-on.” She added, “We recommend parents talk about each section that depicts hurtful stereotypes or racist themes, going in depth as to why those ideas are not OK. If you do encounter a questionable passage, pause to talk to your child about why it’s wrong and antiquated, how the world has changed, and what your family does to be an ally to others.”
Indeed, taking the time to explain how times have changed is important, no matter the activity.
LaNesha Tabb, a kindergarten teacher who also runs the successful Instagram Education With an Apron, explained how she talks to her kids about problematic books.
“For me, racist depictions in illustrations because ‘the story is so cute’ is a hard pass. However, a fairy tale with strong ‘wait on a man to rescue a woman’ or ‘appearance over everything’ vibes could be a teachable moment,” she said. “I can read the story and ask my children how they feel. Then, I can intentionally ask them questions that might cause them to think about the story in a different light. A nice part of living in this day and age is the fact that fairy tales, while not perfect, offer children characters that are smart, level-headed and independent. I might ask a fairy tale-loving child how Cinderella differs from Elsa, then we can discuss how being viewed as a ‘hero’ is different in both stories. This is a great chance to develop your child’s critical thinking skills.”
Link to the rest at HuffPost
PG was going to opine, but decided not to do so.
He’s happy to hear from visitors to TPV on this topic, however.