Saturday, January 03, 2015

Dystopian Parenting

I was very strict about media, even books,  when my children were under the age of seven,  as I do not believe in allowing any exposure to violence when children are still in their absorbent mind years.  After seven, I ease up a whole lot - Narnia books, Star Wars movies, etc.  - but I am feeling a little embarrassed at how far I have eased my standards with the Lone Star Baby, who is ten.   

The Lone Star Baby is a reader, which it is hard not to be when raised in my Library-Brainwashing-Immersion Method, but she is also very independent-minded and choosy.  If she has a series of books she is into, she will read them voraciously, but she does not easily accept recommendations for new things to read and, even when she tries something new herself, she does no get into things easily.  Her reading pattern tends then to be READREADREADREADREAD - fallow-period-when-nothing-entices-her-to-read-READREADREADREADREAD, etc.  I worry when she is in the fallow periods, so I am not inclined to complain about her material when she is in a READing period.  In recent years, this has been pretty easy, as the Harry Potter mania was quickly followed by the Rick-Riordan-and-similar-Greek-mythology-inspired-fare mania and all of that was pretty palatable, even if the Goddess Girls books are almost too silly to bear.

But then, after reading The Giver,  her eyes turned to The Hunger Games.  

I forbade it for awhile, thinking ten was just too young, but I was pretty sure she would read it at school behind my back anyways so I eventually gave in and she quickly devoured it and its sequels and started casting around for more dystopian YA fiction.  I may even have told her about the Divergent books myself.  She has now devoured them, too, and has started on the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld.

On the one hand, I really think these books are much more appropriate for kids who are at least twelve if not older (the Uglies series is really fine, I guess, but the others).  I don't really think a kid's intelligence or reading level is any reason to have them read books that are too mature for their developmental age.  I truly don't.  On the other hand, my girl has just always been so stubborn.  She is not going to accept A Series of Unfortunate Events or The Dark Is Rising when she has made up her mind that the teen dystopian fiction is her thing.  And I do want her to read.  

So I caved.  I am not proud of it at the same time that I am glad to see her reading all the time.  I have got no utopias here.

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