professornana (professornana) wrote,

More rights for the reader

Here is another gem from the post I have been writing about the last couple of days:

"Children have the right to feel uncomfortable when reading.

There is sometimes a danger that children meet only saccharine-sweet parodies or read their way through the entire canon of an author. While the reader may read for pleasure, there is something about developing the wider reader. Confident readers can easily make their way through school with minimal intervention in their choice of reading matter. The “right” is about children reading books that make them think, reflect, laugh out loud and engage."

I think this is a stumbling block for some. There are those well-meaning folks who seek to shield kids from books that cause discomfort. I have heard it quite a few times. "Why share books that are so dark with kids?" Or, "My kids don't come from abusive homes." Perhaps, "My readers do not need to read sad books." There has been discussion online about which topics and subjects are too mature for tweens and teens.

Books should wound and stab us, says Kafka. It needs to serve as the ax for the frozen sea within. Books that make us uncomfortable change something inside us. They challenge our long held beliefs (note I did not say they make those beliefs erode as that is not always the case; sometimes these books make us even more vested in the beief). They cause us to reflect on how we might act and react should such a situation present itself. They can call us to action, make us angry, quell our unreasoned fears. By confronting the monster in the book (as Max does in WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE), we tame it; we control it.

I think of the books I have read this month that made me uncomfortable. They dealt with bullying, with parents failing at their job of being parents. Some examined a society in which hate is permitted to present itself as violence. They were disquieting. Yet because I read them I was able to think calmly and rationally about circumstances I will never (I hope) experience in my own little world. So, give kids books that wound and stab. Give them boooks that make them chortle and guffaw, too. And let them read books that are sorta like potato chips (betcha cn't read just one).
Tags: reader rights
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