[DWJ] Attitude

minnow at belfry.org.uk minnow at belfry.org.uk
Wed Dec 27 14:56:53 EST 2006

In <4592CBA4.2040208 at shaw.ca>, Robyn Starkey wrote:
>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).

This seems to me to be the same type of disturbance I feel when I see
books being categorised on their covers as "young adult" or whatever
else: we've certainly discussed this here before, and I always end up
continuing to feel "Yes, but by what criteria is whom making what
judgements, exactly, and why should I assume they have got it right for
any given individual other than themselves?"

>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. 


Gracious!  They aren't the same book at all, and *Good Wives* is about
what it says on the tin -- women being "good" wives.  I think I feel
quite cross about that being run in with *Little Women* that way.  I
hope the reader at least gets some warning!

What about *Little Men* and *Jo's Boys*: have they too been run
together, or are they simply not read/in print any more?

>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. 

Maybe it just reflects the thinking at the time and in the society
depicted in the books: when were they written, again?  I don't have them
here to check: I remember that the father of the family went off to The
War, but I don't remember which one.  If they are 1860s it wouldn't be
that much of a shock if marriage is what women are being expected to
aspire to, f'rinstance, would it?

>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. 

Hear hear.  :-(

>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.

As in everyone thinking that the mores they grew up with are somehow
Natural Laws and Everyone Knows That?  Even leaving aside things as
controversial as cannibalism or killing off the old for whatever reason,
all one has to do is start mentioning marriage between first cousins to
see that it ain't necessarily so, in my experience.  Jane Austen is as
relaxed as you like about that, and then most nowadays Wromance readers
from America find it icky and most nowadays Wromance readers from
England say "what's the problem?"


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