Long, long ago, when everyone in my house was much younger, there were certain books that had to be banned. I'm not proud of it, but there it is. See, some books were just too painful to read—their stories were too traumatic, their messages too sharp. And while we generally view ourselves in the tough as nails bunch here, when a book is too harsh, too real, too gritty…well, we have to stop reading it, that's all.
Public Enemy # 1: Are You My Mother?
The first time we read this, as the baby bird was wandering the parched desperate land, asking the various things "Are YOU my mother?" we got to the snort and—well. That was it. A howl of grief, a gush of tears. "No! No! No! WRONG!" Or something along those lines. The book was slammed shut, and the person refused—refused—to ever read it again. For YEARS. When teachers read it she left the room, when adults pleaded she was stony and unyielding.
Did I explain that it all worked out in the end? Of course I explained that it all worked out in the end! But to no avail. She could not forgive.
It wasn't just this book, and it wasn't just her. Another young person of my acquaintance (do you like how we're protecting reputations here at TDITW?) was traumatized by this nihilistic horror:
Yes, that's right, Five little ducks went out one day, over the hills and far away, Mother duck said "Quack quack quack quack"—but only four little ducks came back.
Oh my god. Only four came back.
The child in question wept. "Why?" she pleaded, "Why would they have a book like that for kids?"
Explanations, again, went pretty much nowhere. Let's just say logic is not the most effective tool with this bunch.
All of which begs the question: What is up with my children? I mean, they're over it. They could (probably) read these books now without turning a hair (they could, right? RIGHT?). But for whatever reason (incompetent reading/mothering) these books just…well, it goes beyond bombed really. They backfired.
I wrote this post because I figured, I can't be the only one. Other peoples kids have misread and turned against well-loved children's classics, haven't they? It doesn't indicate anything bad—of course not! Heh heh.
Your kids have, right?