[DWJ] Attitude

Robyn Starkey rohina at shaw.ca
Wed Dec 27 14:38:12 EST 2006

Melissa Proffitt wrote:

>Well, it *is* supposed to be a guide to help parents choose books for their
>kids--emphasis on protecting them from bad things.  It's that latter that
>bothers me.  They've got books ranked on a continuum that's totally
>subjective to their worldview--respect for parents and elders good,
>disobedience bad, etc.--but they imply that their ratings are objective and
>that right-thinking people will agree with them.  
This is what disturbs me, added to the fact that the "How we decide" 
link is empty. Surely that ought to be one of the first things you 
articulate if you really are trying to be objective? So that people can 
look at your criteria and decide whether their values agree with yours, 
or whether they are so far divergent as to be irreconcilable (as mine 
seem to be).

Now, I wouldn't ban my child from reading Little Women, but I would want 
her to do it with caution - particularly the second half, which used to 
be Good Wives, but is often published together with the first book. 
Because it has some pretty strong messages in it about how women can't 
be successful and happy if they don't get married, and maybe I think 
that's not such a good attitude. On the other side of the coin, the site 
reviles The Chocolate War, which I think is a really interesting book 
about how you deal with conformity. Admittedly, I'd recommend it to 
teenagers, not children, but I think its attitude is fantastic.

I agree with Melissa's comments about the site setting itself up to do 
the thinking for parents, and again, I hate that because they aren't 
being honest about the value system. This is the argument I have with my 
children's lit students (usually the ones who are in the Early Childhood 
Ed program). They are convinced that there is a set of values we all 
agree to, and of course, as soon as I make them articulate it, it 
becomes clear that we don't all agree.


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