>Child_Lit has been unusually lively the last couple of weeks, with discussions of The Dark is Rising, Love You Forever (again), gypsies, and gay-seeming children all perking along nicely, but what has intrigued me most is a thread inspired by a post from GraceAnne DeCandido, who has given me permission to reproduce it here:
it is one of those teaching days that make one want to scream and
throw things (the Yankees loss last night did not help, but I
Several of my students (graduate students all) think that if they
buy a book or give a booktalk or promote a book to a teacher or a
class it means somehow that they condone and approve everything
that takes place in a book. They cannot, for example, buy or
promote Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist because that means
they approve of the language (which is salty and true to life). One
student objected to the grammar and usage in Walter Dean
Myers’ books because she felt it didn’t model good and
This is of course all connected to the teaching book/didacticism
thread we have had. I am teaching a literature course to adult
people studying for the MLIS degree. I need to find ways of
addressing this issue, although I am puzzled so much by their
attitudes that I scarce know where to begin.
Well my dear GA, I think three things are going on here. First, either these students aren’t readers or they’ve forgotten that kids read the same way grownups do: just as reading a Donna Leon mystery does not overwhelm me with the urge to push someone into the Grand Canal, reading Nick and Norah . . . isn’t going to introduce the word fuck into a spoken vocabulary from which it was previously absent. So, I think we’re talking about library school students who don’t love reading, which makes me want to jump into the Grand Canal.
But here’s the second thing, which is worse: humans over time have demonstrated an inordinate fondness for the ability to push around those of their kind who are smaller and weaker. And some people, especially people who don’t like to read, use books as weapons in service to this objective. This goes for books that are either suppressed or required when the point of either action is to control what another person thinks or does.
The third thing, though, can give us all hope; namely, that these grad students are laughably deluded if they think any child really cares what the librarian thinks.
But I wonder if these students really are the grammatically correct Polly Puremouths they’re presenting themselves as. Are they truly worried about modeling bad behavior, or are they just afraid to get in trouble with other adults? That fondness for picking on the vulnerable doesn’t look so good when the vulnerable is you.