YA/Children's/Adult Books

Irina Rempt irina at valdyas.org
Sun Apr 27 16:09:48 EDT 2003

On Sunday 27 April 2003 01:28, minnow at belfry.org.uk wrote:

> I find it strange to attempt to
> protect "children" as a sub-species from things it is entirely futile
> to attempt to prevent people under adult age from knowing about.  At
> least, I would assume that any child old enough to be selecting books
> (real books with small print) to read would be aware that sex is
> something adults behave in incomprehensible ways about, and that
> children in Iraq or in Oklahoma or in quiet peaceful Sussex villages
> have had horrible things done to them by mad adults.

Yes; even my seven-year-olds have some inkling of it, and the 
nine-year-old asks questions (and we make a point of always answering).

> Fiction is one of the ways in which
> our species instructs the young.  Telling stories to them about
> things that *might happen*, nasty things, warns them of dangers
> without having to expose them to those dangers, warns them in a safe
> way.  If you pretend to a child that everything is nice and safe and
> cuddly, that child is going to get some really horrid shocks when it
> finds out that this is simply *not true*.

Mistake made in spades by Waldorf schools (Steiner schools? I don't know 
what they're called in English) anyway, the followers of Rudolf Steiner 
who make young children live in a "fairy-tale world" in soft sweet 
colours and, when very strict, forbid any contact with the real world 
that might scare them. They don't allow children to learn to read until 
they're seven, either. (My seven-year-olds read the Chrestomanci and 
Narnia books, the seven-year-old across the road is still on "maan roos 
vis") (sorry, little rant, but this can make me very indignant)

> In exactly the same way, I did not have a "baby-gate" on my stairs
> when my children were toddlers.

LOL! The only place we briefly did have a baby-gate was the kitchen door 
to prevent the twins from crawling in and eating the cat food (it made 
them puke and upset the cats).

> And as far as I know
> [DWJ] did not intend either of these two books to be "not for
> children".  She has a high opinion of children, and reckons they are
> capable of making up their own minds about what they read, as she did
> when young.

And she says somewhere that adults need simpler books because children 
are better to understand convoluted storylines.

> any parent who leaves *Sex-Antics of Gor* on the
> settee in a house with children in it should be kicked anyhow!

If we did that (if we had anything remotely like it) the girls would 
pick it up, glance at it, and say "blecch! boring!"

> *The Weirdstone of Brisingamen*, in the 1963 Puffin, is recommended
> as "for boys and girls over eight".   I know plenty of people who
> loved it at age ten or younger; I read it when I was about ten, hated
> it, admired it greatly, and some of it still turns up occasionally in
> my nightmares. 

I read it in my early teens, recommended by the school librarian, and 
loved it (still do, in fact). (Reminds me I should find out if there's 
a Dutch translation, and if it's any good, so I can give it to the 
Chrestomanci reader for her eighth birthday in September)


Vesta veran, terna puran, farenin.         http://www.valdyas.org/irina/
Beghinnen can ick, volherden will' ick, volbringhen sal ick.
http://www.valdyas.org/~irina/foundobjects/          Latest: 11-Mar-2003

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