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How do you handle content in classic literature that you find offensive or just plain gross?

 

For instance, I found the Grimm's brothers "(various colors) fairy books" very disturbing with all their graphic descriptions in how people killed people in various stories. Another example is: Hilaire Belloc's Cautionary Verses. It seems violent and weird to me. Did you still read the books to them or did you avoid them? Did you talk to them about it? What do you do in these situations?

What about when they get older in the teen years and are reading alot of the literature on their own? How do you teach your children about the content? Do you let them read it? What do you talk about etc?

 

Charmayne

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I tend not to censor too much. Do you have boys? Chances are they wont be as grossed out as you are! Grimms and other classic tales are notorious for being pretty graphic and violent. You know your own children- if they can handle it, I personally dont worry about it- my kids are not the super sensitive type. If they were, I would withhold that which disturbed them until they could handle it.

As teens, my kids read all sorts of things. My son just read The Kite Runner which has a graphic and disturbing sex scene in it. As far as I am concerned if as teens they are happy to watch violence in movies, which is pretty normal, and they do- they can deal with it in books.

I dont censor much at all, and I am not easily grossed out myself. I am currently reading aloud an Australian book to my kids and it has sex scenes in it which I skip- and I tell them I am skipping them. No big deal. If I handed the book to them, I wouldnt cover them up or anything. My dd16 read the Clan of the Cave Bear series a couple of years ago. Yikes, after she finished she told me there were SO many sex scenes in there- I had completely forgotten!

Anyway, I really think they can handle it. They handled fairy tales as little kids and they handle adult literature as teens. It can lead to lots of conversations.

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Depending on the extent to which I'm offended by the content, I will avoid the book altogether, edit out the nasty parts (although this is fast becoming a non option now that my 6yo can read well enough to follow along with whatever I'm reading him), read it but initiate a discussion about it, or just read through it without comment.

 

We don't generally have problems with violence, as we haven't really read any books with realistic severe violence as yet, and the kids don't seem to be worried by fairy tale or symbolic type violence. The main things I take issue with are anti feminist writing and writing that promotes or normalizes racism, homophobia and so on. (Also there are quite a few books that assume a religious worldview that differs from our beliefs, however that isn't something that offends me; it's simply something that I might flag for discussion to help the kids understand it better.) Graphic sex scenes haven't appeared in our reading as yet, but when we get to that point I would like for the children to have some moral and factual context before they start reading that kind of stuff. Not to restrict what they read, but to make sure that they don't base their beliefs about what sex is (or ought to be) on a random selection of novels! iykwim

 

As for when the children get older, I would hope not to be censoring their reading. I might caution them if I thought a particular work might be harrowing for them to read, and remind them that they can stop reading or skip parts if they need to.

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When my kids were under six, fairytale horror was a problem (They were scared especially of pictures of dragons and obviously evil charactes.) We did view some violence/ death in older war movies like The Battle of Britian. They understood and could discuss the real life problems easier than the pretend world. Now that they are older and can easily separate the pretend from the real, we've read the Narnia series and watched the movies with them. This is how it played out for us in the early years.

 

I guess the rule of thumb has been to limit what we ingest based on their ability to discuss it and put it in the framework of good and evil in the real world.

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My dc think Hilaire Belloc's tales are hilarious and prefer "real" fairytales like Grimm over the Disneyfied versions! They can't stand all of the whitewashing that goes on with re-told fairytales.

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My dc think Hilaire Belloc's tales are hilarious and prefer "real" fairytales like Grimm over the Disneyfied versions! They can't stand all of the whitewashing that goes on with re-told fairytales.

 

But I have boys who are really boys. I read Series of Unfortunate Events and many Roald Dahl books to my boys when they were on the younger side. We've read Eragon aloud as well as Grimm stories and Greek myths. Harry Potter, too.

 

I've also stopped books and told them this will have to wait until they are older (Eldest, Book II of the Eragon/Inheritance series). They see some of my YA books I bring home and I tell them they gotta be a bit older for them.

 

I know my boys. I know what they can handle and what scares them. I know what type of things my oldest internalizes (war, armageddon, 2012 theories, etc). Knowing my boys. That is the key.

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Wow! My oldest son is very different. He says literature like that gets his mind way too focused on sexual thoughts. I think it would my husband too.

 

I tend not to censor too much. Do you have boys? Chances are they wont be as grossed out as you are! Grimms and other classic tales are notorious for being pretty graphic and violent. You know your own children- if they can handle it, I personally dont worry about it- my kids are not the super sensitive type. If they were, I would withhold that which disturbed them until they could handle it.

As teens, my kids read all sorts of things. My son just read The Kite Runner which has a graphic and disturbing sex scene in it. As far as I am concerned if as teens they are happy to watch violence in movies, which is pretty normal, and they do- they can deal with it in books.

I dont censor much at all, and I am not easily grossed out myself. I am currently reading aloud an Australian book to my kids and it has sex scenes in it which I skip- and I tell them I am skipping them. No big deal. If I handed the book to them, I wouldnt cover them up or anything. My dd16 read the Clan of the Cave Bear series a couple of years ago. Yikes, after she finished she told me there were SO many sex scenes in there- I had completely forgotten!

Anyway, I really think they can handle it. They handled fairy tales as little kids and they handle adult literature as teens. It can lead to lots of conversations.

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Yes, I think you just have to be aware with scary stories whether it bothers your boys or not. Nathan and Ben are pretty sensitive with things. Even seeing animals eat other animals (in books or documentaries) bothers them.

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