Saturday, March 14, 2009

What is happening to our books?

I have taken to reading most of the books that we get for the kids so that I know what they are reading, so that we can talk about them if they ever want to, because they enjoy sharing the stories with me as well, and also because I simply enjoy children's literature.
I am very sad however, by the turn that those books have taken. In the past few months I've chosen quite a few books for the kids, books that I could tell they would enjoy and that were well written.
It turns out that I was right, those books were great, after all I did not want to become a librarian as a kid for nothing.
However, OVER HALF of those books have had at the very least the mention of a divorced family, most of them have had the main characters come from a divorced family.

This is when the statistics that we are given in school or on the media really come into perspective. Over half of all families in the United States are divorced. This sounds bad enough, but usually you just shrug it off, saying oh well, not big deal. But when it starts permeating our culture so much that more than half of kids' books are now about divorced families, you start seeing the real problem.

Most of these books also don't really address the divorce in a way that might be constructive, instead they just talk about it in a matter of fact way that will just lead children to believe that divorce is normal and pretty much expected.
Now I would never take away the right of someone to divorce, but children should not be told that it's no big deal and that divorce is a norm now. They should understand that divorce is necessary in some occasions, but that your ultimate goal is to try and create a family that will last.
Desensitizing our children towards divorce is scary business. It means that the next generation might have even less consideration for marriage and staying in a relationship that this one did.
Granted it might trigger the opposite, this next generation might see what happened to their parents and swear that they will not do the same. They might not get married at all but stay extremely commited to one partner throughout their whole life, in which case I will be very happy. But with American morals being the way they are, and the American way being the "fast and easy" way, it is not very likely to happen.

As a parent now, I almost feel as though there should be warning labels on books, and that makes me really sad. But knowing whether or not a book has a divorced family in it might be important to someone. I personally would never stop the kids from reading anything that they might want to read, that is at their level of comprehension. At the same time I am glad to have read the books so that I can talk to them about this phenomenon and explain that it is not a norm and should never become one.
How about the parents that don't have the inclination or the time to read everything their child reads? Parents who might not want to have their child start thinking about divorce as being "normal". How are they supposed to know when going to the book store what books to avoid and what books to grab?
Again, it makes me sad to know that this is the society that we live in. That because of our society I am actually thinking about putting warning labels on books! This is not something that should ever have to happen. This is not something that is right. It makes me think of where we will go next... I don't want warning labels to turn into banned books to turn into book burning, and yet I do feel that those warning labels are kind of needed at this point.

Ugh what a nightmare.

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