Boxall's 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die discussion

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1001 Book List > Recommended Age?

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message 1: by Tani (new)

Tani I was just reading a random review of Madame Bovary, and one of the things that the reviewer commented on was that she had tried to read the book before and failed, but loved it on her second try. She attributed this to being older and more able to appreciate the themes of the book. This reminded me of my own experience reading Slow Man. One of the things that really turned me off from the book was the theme of growing old, which I found it really hard to sympathize with. On the other hand, there seem to be plenty of people who read Catcher in the Rye as adults and hated it because Holden was just too much of a teenager for them.

Can anyone think of any other books they've read and just felt like they were the wrong age for? I'm thinking it might be useful to know which ones I should leave for later and which ones I would be better off taking a stab at now. ;)


message 2: by Nikki (new)

Nikki Frantz (nicoleraephotos) There are so so many that I wasn't ready for in high school. The Scarlet Letter is the first one that comes to mind. I absolutely hated that book. I didn't understand any of it, at least not the way it was supposed to be understood. I read it a few years ago and loved it. It is just so rich. I don't understand why it is required reading for high schoolers. Madame Bovary is definitely a book for people that are older. I don't think you could understand her longing for passion in her life without some experience of what that means.

Shakespeare... this is another hot topic with me. I hated Shakespeare in high school. I think it's because they start you off with tragedies. You never get to see just how funny his writing can be. When I got older and started reading/seeing plays such as Much Ado About Nothing and Midsummer Night's Dream I couldn't believe no one had told me about it. Not boring at all! After that I was able to appreciate the tragedies.

I'm sure I could come up with a lot more but I need to go. :)




message 3: by Eileen (new)

Eileen Anderson (eila) I read 100 Years of Solitude when I was a teenager and had no idea who was who or what was going on. I was reading it on my own--not for school--and I made myself finish it, but to this day I couldn't tell you what it was about. That's at the top of my list of books to try again, b/c I'm sure I'd be more equipped to grapple with it now. I'm reading Love in the Time of Cholera at the moment and am loving it, so it makes the thought of reading 100YS less daunting.

Also, Kafka's The Metamorphosis. I found and read my parent's copy when I was about 12 and was lost (can't imagine why. lol). I've read it several times since then, and each time it's a little more accessible.


message 4: by Kieffala (new)

Kieffala | 76 comments I agree. So much of the required reading for High School students is beyond them emotionally. Even for the mature student, they just don't have the life experience.

I read Animal Farm in 8th grade, and I didn't get ANYTHING. Also, I read it on my own, so I didn't have anyone talking to me about the undertones and subtext.

I read A Separate Peace, Catcher in the Rye, etc. in High School, of course, and I found them perfect. All that angst! It made you feel like you weren't the only one having a rough time. I'd be interested to read them again now when I find myself identifying more with the parents in shows and movies than with the kids. It's interesting.

I agree that Shakespeare is difficult with students. The comedies are much more approachable. I think Romeo and Juliet though should remain a standard, again, it's all about the angst!


message 5: by Michelle (new)

Michelle (fireweaver) | 104 comments yup, most of high school is poorly planned. it's like they know they've only got your little minds for a couple of years before you go out into the world to watch soundbites on cnn and skim the newspaper, so they're going to cram as much Grand Lit in your head while they have ya.

re: Shakespeare, 'R&J' is about the only tragedy that should definitely remain a high school standard. i mean, the plot revolves around teenagers doing overwrought silly things over their first infatuated loves, so it's best *felt* by teenagers anyway. but yeah, the comedies! though such things had all their risque bits glossed over when we did get to read them...

i'm convinced all the Dickens they made me read then is probably something i need to try again. i **despised** 'tale of 2 cites', and i'm wondering if it gets better when i'm not 13. of course, maybe i'm nutty, but i loved both 'animal farm' and 'the scarlet letter' when they gave us those.


message 6: by Rat de bibliothèque (last edited Jun 06, 2008 06:38AM) (new)

Rat de bibliothèque (petitverepicureandelivre) | 2 comments The Little Prince. I heard about it on my first trip to college from a frienemy. I read it the other week and felt the same way I did when I finaly saw the movie Labrynth . . . at age 20


message 7: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth (lizzaz) | 2 comments I'm still a teenager, and I agree with all of that, but I also think that it's not JUST age, but large part to experience, and education, I take offense at the strike against age..

I can 'identify' with most books I've read, anything I couldn't have, I put down immediately. But this is because I have not had anything crammed, no reading assignments, at all, to speak of.
(Not to sound egotistical)I'm homeschooled, right now.
And read plenty above what others may expect me to. But I mostly stick to stuff I like. Not because I can't 'understand', but because, it's more enjoyable, the stuff that happens to characters in YA fiction, is wholly more relevant to me, than an adult fiction of a single mother in the 'Big Apple'.... But I love the Bronté sisters!

If anything is forced, it won't come easy, it may come, but only in spite of you.

Ironically, the only Shakespeare play I hate... Is Romeo and Juliet.
But it's a good play for most teenagers, yes, because of the content, they can understand, partly.


message 8: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca (rebsbooks) I hated all the "angsty" stuff. I think my life was "angsty" enough---I didn't need fictional reinforcement, LOL. For whatever reason, I was assigned Lord of the Flies THREE times and I hated it equally each time (although, to my credit, I did actually read it each time). I have a feeling that I wouldn't like it any more if I read it now, but we probably won't find out.

Oh, and I also hated the "coming of age" books: Are You There God, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn...the latter I think I need to try again, however.


message 9: by Tani (new)

Tani Elizabeth - No offense meant by stating age as the main criteria here. It'd be kind of dumb for me to knock younger readers since I'm not exactly ancient myself. I do think that there are certain books that are just easier to connect with when you have more life experience. I'd like to think that a really good author can take you out of yourself so that any differences between yourself and the characters in the book will be forgotten, but I know that doesn't always happen. Of course, there will always be exceptions, but I thought it might be interesting to see how everyone else felt about the issue.

Speaking of exceptions, I have to say that I have a certain fondness for Lord of the Flies. I'm in the ranks of people who had to read it for school, and I definitely hated it while I was reading it. But somehow in the aftermath I decided that I liked it after all. I think it may have been the class discussions that did it. Sometimes when everyone else is critical of something, I end up liking it somehow... Heh, possibly I'm just naturally contrary.


message 10: by Kieffala (new)

Kieffala | 76 comments I agree also, no offense meant regarding the age issue. I like the "relevance" comment by Elizabeth. It's not that one might be "too young" to "get" certain books, it's that the topics, issues, whatever may not yet be relevant to a teenager. Of course, some teenagers have unfortunately already had to deal with issues that they shouldn't have to deal with until they are older, and things are relevant to them at a younger age.

So much of the problem with some of the books that were forced down our throats in high school is just that, no matter how smart or mature the teenager, they are looking at things from their own viewpoint, and may not relate yet to the characters, because they just haven't yet gotten to the point where they can more easily relate. On the other hand, the same issues can be had with really geo-centric works. If the author doesn't do a good job bringing you into the story, it doesn't matter what age you are or where you're from, you won't like it.

I agree with Tani that a good author will make it relevant to you by really bringing you into the story. I mean really, how else can we read the fantasy things and the sci fi stuff, if the authors aren't bringing us in? I personally have never ridden a dragon, but I can still relate to a character who has if the author does a good job helping me relate in other ways.


message 11: by Michelle (new)

Michelle (fireweaver) | 104 comments nah, Tani, not necessarily contrary, that makes sense. 'lord of the flies' was dry on reading, which was such a shame considering how it's all supposed to be about the dissolving of society, animal tendencies, violence, etc etc...how could this come off so snoozy? but the post-book discussions in class brought *a lot* more to the table, and while i think i should re-read that one someday, i liked it much better after discussing. though, sadly, the same thing didn't happen for plenty of other books (e.g., hardy, dickens).

it's part of the reason that i'm so keen on the monthly discussion group here. it's likely that the random assortment of books will draw me out of my comfort zone, but i'll have clever bibliophiles to bounce ideas off of. good times ahead!


message 12: by Kieffala (new)

Kieffala | 76 comments Another point I forgot to comment upon from Rebecca was the not wanting to read the angst-ridden stuff because one's own life was already angst-ridden. I didn't have that issue in high school. For me, the angsty stuff was helpful in that it made me realize that this stuff wasn't just happening to me.

What's happened is that NOW that's how I feel about things. I really have little desire to read these DEEPLY sad and depressing stories. Many, I'm sure would call me shallow, but when you have lots of depression and grief in your own life, you don't want to read about everyone else's. I'm sure I'll get to a point where I can read the depressing stuff again, but right now, it would be bad for me. It's interesting.


message 13: by Jim (new)

Jim | 6 comments I read Rise and Fall of the Third Reich one summer between 8th and 9th grade - it took me all summer -it wasn't assigned for summer reading I'm pretty sure

I had a mid-sized Ohio town upbringing

I didn't know much about WWII except from war movies but I got what the book was about and what capacity there was within individuals/societies for committing atrocities towards other human beings on an unbelievable scale

I guess my belief is that if a book is good enough and a reader is open minded, fairly intelligent, not self obsessed with themselves and probably not forced to read something, then I don't think there is any specific age to determine when a book should be read

people have had a lot tougher things to face at very young ages than reading a book.


message 14: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth (lizzaz) | 2 comments "People have had a lot tougher things to face at very young ages than reading a book. " -- 'Jim'

I agree. I think you can read any book, at any age, depending on the book, and the person, nothing else.
And thank you Tani, and Kieffala.


message 15: by Aaron (new)

Aaron | 12 comments I started reading classics on my own around Junior year of high school. There were some books I read that were pretty easy to handle, like Brave New World or Babbitt. And there were some books that I just wasn't old enough or disciplined enough to get. These include Ulysses, War and Peace and Moby Dick. (Ulysses and War and Peace, I read again when I was older.)

However, even though I didn't get everything out of these books, I did learn how to read denser novels, and that was the most important lesson. I think you need to read a bunch of books poorly in order to learn how to read them well, and perhaps people's frustration with reading more difficult books in high school comes more from an inexperience in reading rather than an inexperience in life.


message 16: by Sue (new)

Sue (suezeebee) | 2 comments Kieffala and whoever else talked about Shakespeare--while I did find Shakespeare a bit daunting in high school (mostly because of the thick language), my English teacher was kind enough to include a lot of comedies when we studied him. His expertise was Brit Lit in general, so he was quick to point out any Shakespeare references that were common in pop culture or our community, and he was educated enough to inform us of any inside jokes or allusions Shakespeare had in his work.

Furthermore, plays are meant to be seen and not read. When we studied Hamlet, we watched the Kenneth Branaugh version with the text right in front of us, so we had the literal and figurative presentations of the work. I was also lucky that an obscure theatre in town known for its humble yet creative productions was featuring Hamlet set in 1980s America while we were studying Hamlet. So that also added to the enriched Shakespeare experience.

As for the tragedies, not only should R & J be a standard, but I think Hamlet should be, too. I am a little biased, because Hamlet is, by far, my favorite work of Shakespeare, but R & J performed is absolutely heartbreaking in its raw emotion.


message 17: by Sue (new)

Sue (suezeebee) | 2 comments "People have had a lot tougher things to face at very young ages than reading a book. " -- 'Jim'

I agree. I think you can read any book, at any age, depending on the book, and the person, nothing else.
And thank you Tani, and Kieffala.

--from 'Elizabeth'

I would have to say that while any one can ready anything they please despite any demographical or life similarities or differences to that of the book, those who have a lot of life experience have an advantage.

Especially in high school, where English grades are directly related to how well a student comprehends the reading material and can express some reaction from the material, those who have much life experience when it comes to reading challenging books can possibly relate to the characters a whole lot more easier, they may be mature in their reading repertoire and so very familiar with classic themes, and they may also just plain like the books more, making them adept at analyzing the craft of writing such classics.

Every reader matures--heck, approaches literature--differently, and its for the benefit of the reader that it may be wise to not read, say, 'Great Expectations' at age nine unless that student is very gifted in that he/she has life experience making him/her mature enough for the themes in the book. Perhaps that student at age nine should build themselves up to 'Great Expectations' by associating himself or herself with other work at that time--'Oliver Twist,' Oscar Wilde plays, film adaptations of Jane Austen's work, etc.

The last thing I want to do is put labels on all literature as to who can read them, what type of life experiences best correlates with what literature, etc.,--the above was just an example--but it is something to keep in mind that if someone wants to get a lot out of reading a book--appreciate the writing, the themes, the author's efforts--perhaps life experience is something to take as a grain of salt in determining whether or not to read that book.





message 18: by Kieffala (new)

Kieffala | 76 comments Sioux, I also was lucky to have excellent English teachers. We acted out scenes from Julius Caesar in one class. And the guy I had my junior and senior years was VERY good about pointing out the nuances which may have been lost upon us. He also assigned us "parts" for every play we read. So although we didn't get to see most of the plays we read, at least we had different voices. Of course, I also clearly remember one of my classmates, who was "Hamlet" getting yelled at by the teacher because he was being so blah in his delivery of the "to be or not to be" speech. It was really funny. He says: "Stop! Stop! Do you know what Hamlet is doing here? Do you KNOW? Do you GET IT? He's contemplating SUICIDE! Have a little emotion!" Hilarious. It didn't help much. They kid is a lawyer now. Funny.


message 19: by Kieffala (new)

Kieffala | 76 comments Don't get me wrong, Sioux, I do think that even the best written books can go over the heads of people who haven't had the life experiences. Also that it is important to ease oneself into the heavy hitters. I was very lucky that my Mom worked VERY hard with her literary and librarian friends to find books for me that worked not only for my age, but my maturity and reading level. So, there were books that I was reading at a young age, that some of my schoolmates would have found over their heads, but as I'd been eased in, it was fine. The other approach is the one they took with my sister. She wasn't much of a reader. She stayed with the "kids books" for a VERY long time. Until Jurassic Park came out. She read it and loved it when she was seven or eight. My Mom actually had to check it out for her from the library. It came down to her finally finding a topic she liked. She still loves dinosaurs.


message 20: by Inder (last edited Jun 13, 2008 03:43PM) (new)

Inder | 82 comments At 16, I would have strongly resented the implication that some books were too "mature" for me! But at 31, I can freely admit - some books are still too mature for me!

With really great literature, you could read a book four or five times in your lifetime, and get something different out of it each time. With each rereading, it would speak to different aspects of your experience.

When I was a teenager, I was hungry for heavy, adult literature, and purposefully sought out books that many considered beyond my maturity level. I mean, to a great extent, reading great books is what gave me maturity. I developed my identity through reading. (This is a long way of saying that I was a shy, bookish, recluse in high school!)

I used to just devour good books, and often stayed up all night reading, absolutely riveted by a novel. You may gain some experience and perspective as you get older, but unfortunately, you also lose some of that wonderful intensity, so enjoy it while you're young and full of nervous energy!


message 21: by Michelle (new)

Michelle (fireweaver) | 104 comments oh, Inder, me too! i was reading *way* above my reading level as a kiddo & teen, and very much resented it when someone tried to tell me i wasn't old enough for something. i remember quite clearly tearing through 'clan of the cave bear' somewhere around 6th grade...my grandmother (whose book it was) took it away from me for the afternoon until my mom came home. she tried to explain to mom that it might be a bit beyond me, since there was (whisper for effect here) s-e-x in that book!!! mom laughed and handed it right back to me, and told me to ask if i had any questions about stuff going on in there. my mom is awesome.

but there are plenty of books - mostly those at-the-time horribly dry and dusty ol' classics - that i think about rereading now that i'm older & wiser (haha). there's just such a gulf of difference between knowing a concept (war, love, loss, etc) in the abstract, like one does as a grade schooler, and knowing it in real-world experience. i don't think it's an inflammatory or ageist statement to claim that you'll get more out of some experiences if you've lived a little yourself. by all means, read what you want whenever you want to, use that brain and fill it with depth & structure & wonder. but revisiting something a decade or two or three later, after your brain already has that solid and amazing architecture, it'll be read with an entirely different set of eyes.


message 22: by Eileen (new)

Eileen Anderson (eila) I feel lucky that no one ever tried to keep me from reading anything based on my age (except when I tried to read Michael Crichton's Disclosure shortly after the movie came out. My mom saw the steamy cover and yanked it out of my hands. I can't really condemn her for that. lol) As an adult, I know that I'd pull different things from The Hunchback of Notre Dame or Les Miserables now than I did when I was 13, but I'd never trade in having read them when I was younger, because even if I didn't "get" it all, those books contributed enormously to my vocabulary and my grammatical ear. I agree with other posters here who say that reading hard books when you're young prepares you for reading hard books with more comprehension as an adult.

I can only HOPE that my future children have the patience and the will to read challenging books. Sounds like a dream come true to me!


message 23: by Derrick (new)

Derrick (afderrick) | 92 comments So it is better to read a book and possibly not understand every little detail than to be barred from reading the books all-together? What about encouraging children to read the "children" or "young adult" books first and once having exhausted that list allow them on to the "bigger" books?


message 24: by Chloe (new)

Chloe (countessofblooms) | 140 comments Derrick, if I had been forced to stick to the age-appropriate books as a kid I would have gotten so bored with reading so early in life that I would not be the person that I am today. People, kids and adults, should choose the books that they think are right for them- nobody knows what a person is capable of better than that person.

I know that I didn't fully understand all of the historo-political contexts in Les Miserables when I read it as a child, but I don't think my appreciation of it was much diminished. I know that I was infuriatingly bored when we were forced to read Lois Lowry's The Giver my Freshman year in high school and simply turned off my brain in English classes until I was able to start taking classes at the local college. Teaching to the lowest common denominator is like bashing your head against the wall if you aren't that denominator.

I think it's very foolhardy for adults to maintain that they know what is best for kids educationally. A self-motivated learner, as all children are before being crammed into the homogenizing school system, is able to access learning when it fits them, rather than when it is deemed appropriate. That said, I wasn't homeschooled, no matter how much I wish I was.

So all of you "kids" in this group, have fun with the reads you come across. Of course some things may be challenging and you may have a deeper (not necessarily better) understanding of the subject matter when you're older- but each new challenging book may open up previously undreamt of avenues of learning and reading. Books are portals to whole new realms of experience and I envy you having so many untapped vistas ahead of you.


message 25: by Derrick (new)

Derrick (afderrick) | 92 comments When I was thinking of ages and children's book I was thinking more around the age of 8 and not teenagers who I would assume could pick their own books and make up their own minds of what they wanted to read.

While the debate is going, how do you feel about parents who censor the books their children are allowed to read? For instance, the Harry Potter books, some parents didn't like these books and forbade their children to read them.


message 26: by Chloe (new)

Chloe (countessofblooms) | 140 comments The thing is, even at eight a lot of kids can be trusted to choose their own books. As much as I personally am revolted by parental censorship of reading materials, I think that's their prerogative.

That said, I am enormously greatful that my mom let me read all the H.P. Lovecraft that I devoured as a kid, even if it did give me frightening propensity for nightmares.


message 27: by Inder (last edited Jun 16, 2008 02:16PM) (new)

Inder | 82 comments I agree with others who say that kids should be allowed to pick their own books. That doesn't mean that you can't recommend great books to them, of course. I often solicited adult advice on books growing up, and it was really, really helpful.

I read a lot of "young adult" literature, too, by the way. I read a lot then just as I do now. By my teens, however, I prided myself in reading almost entirely "adult" fare. (Now, I'll read anything again.)

With only a few exceptions, my parents took a very laissez-faire "First Amendment" type approach - they let me read whatever I was interested in, under the assumption that I would sort the good from the bad, and ask them questions about the rest.

Some possible reasons for this include:

1) My parents were hippies, and had been strongly influenced by their reading of Emile by Rousseau.

2) Society was perhaps a little less protective of children twenty-five to thirty years ago. We were also allowed to run around the neighborhood in packs, wrecking havoc.

3) Last but definitely not least, I was one of three, and my mom had more important things to do than censor my reading.

There were some notable exceptions to this free-for-all, for books that my mom deemed "obscene" (generally, non-pornographic sexual content was allowed) or "demeaning to women." For these, my mother would swoop in, give me a long lecture on feminism, and take them away. I didn't resent this - to be honest, the books that upset her usually upset me too.


message 28: by Derrick (new)

Derrick (afderrick) | 92 comments However it seems that your mom did censor your reading when it came to thinks that she deemed unsafe for children. I'm not talking about as a parent handing a book to a child and saying, "this is what you will read". I am trying to debate the idea of how much a parent should edit or censor what their child reads. I was allowed to read what I chose as a child too. However if I were a child today I do not think my mother would have allowed me to read the Harry Potter books (which I haven't read as an adult anyway simply because they seem disintersting to me)


message 29: by Inder (last edited Jun 16, 2008 09:08PM) (new)

Inder | 82 comments Derrick, yes, although the censoring was extremely limited and well-explained. Specifically - no Henry Miller! You don't want your teenaged girl growing up expecting her relationships to look like those portrayed in Henry Miller, fair enough!

My parents rarely took books away from me, but they talked to me about my reading, and encouraged me to avoid books that I found overly upsetting or disturbing. They also shared their own beliefs and opinions about my reading.

As for Harry Potter, I assume your mother's objection would have been on religious grounds? Personally, I've read all the Harry Potter books, and I think they are harmless fantasy, but certainly, this is an issue for each parent to resolve based on their own beliefs. I would definitely be a little alarmed if my kids were reading Mein Kampf or the Satanic Bible. On the other hand, forbidding a book may make it seem more exciting and interesting than it would otherwise.

I read a lot of controversial stuff as a teenager, and, largely, I think it helped me develop strong critical thinking skills, rather than leading me astray. But I can't say I wasn't disturbed at times!

It seems to me that this is a delicate balancing act, like most things in life.


message 30: by Derrick (new)

Derrick (afderrick) | 92 comments No doubt it's a balancing act. I know my wife doesn't want to allow the kids to read anything that she hasn't read first or doesn't at least know a little about. I'm more of the mindset that I would rather my children pick out their own books, I would love to see my child reading something like Kafka at age 10, although I doubt he or she would understand any of it. (never read Kafka, heard he is difficult). I just wonder what lines I should draw because like you said I wouldn't want my teenage girl to read Henry Miller and would generally want to protect them from something that might scew their world view.


message 31: by Karen (new)

Karen | 64 comments I was a voracious reader as a kid and skipped right from juvenile to adult books. My mother rarely, if ever, censored what I tried to read. (although she tell me not to read "Valley of the Dolls", so I just waited until times when she wasn't home and read her copy on her nightstand)

I can remember some of the older librarians frowning at me when I went to the adult section at about 10-12 yrs of age, but they knew I had my mother's permission.

I am sure there were some things I did not totally understand, but I would have been sooooo bored by the reading level of juvenile or even YA books--although, as I recall, there wasn't even a "YA" genre when I was a kid.


message 32: by Kieffala (new)

Kieffala | 76 comments I too was lucky that my parents let us read whatever we wanted. I mean, my God, I read my first Stephen King in fourth grade! It was carefully chosen by my father (the Constant SK Reader) so as not to give me terrible nightmares. It was The Eyes of the Dragon. I'd been begging to read something by King, since my Dad was always reading him, and finally this one came out that wasn't very scary. It's a fairy tale, really. A fairy tale that only Stephen King could write, of course.

Hahaha, Eileen, you talk about your future children too?

I agree Derrick. It's so important to be active in the reading lives of one's children. My parents were VERY good about presenting me with books I would enjoy and that would challenge me. They worked with librarians, etc. But, of course, they knew me and knew what I could handle and what might be too over my head.

My Mom always asked what I was reading, what was happening in the book, etc. I think not purely out of curiosity. This way, if I was confused about something or disturbed, I would say it, and we could talk about it. I think also it was a very basic kind of reading comprehension exercise. Do I understand what's happening? Can I talk about it and express it? All that good stuff. As a result I was generally reading above my age level, but rarely over-reaching so much as to cause problems.

I think there may have been a few books that slightly concerned my Mom, but we talked about it beforehand, and that way again, I knew I could go and ask her questions. On the other hand, reading something like "Go Ask Alice" at a younger age (junior high) was GREAT for me. I think that book is one of the reasons I have NEVER had a desire to do drugs.

All of this said, as someone who is hoping to have children to guide and educate soon, I would hope that people wouldn't censor, especially things like Harry Potter, but if it goes against your core beliefs, and you don't want your children exposed to those kinds of alternative approaches, then perhaps discourage them from reading. On the other hand, my approach would be to read whatever book(s) along with them to talk about them, to explain why I may disagree with the content. It makes me sad when I hear about parents censoring things like that. I agree that more racy or violent books can be discouraged, but again, case by case basis, talk about the books and the content. Alright, I'm harping.

Hahaha, Inder, I LOVED those packs! I too remember being told to be back for lunch, dinner, dark. Dark in Montana in the summer is sometimes 10pm. So, I was basically out, running around, my location often only known in the most sketchy way by my parents, and that was fine. I think it's sad that it's not like that anymore.

Yep, my Mom, the pseudo-feminist was VERY big on the not demeaning to women also. Which, I have to say, as a pseudo-feminist myself, I'll take the same path. Again though, in some cases, it gave us things to talk over. The whole: "What could she have done? What would you do in that situation? Is this kind of behavior acceptable?" Etc.

Going back to Harry Potter, there was an incident with the son of a friend. They were all reading them as they came out. The daughter is a little older and therefore was always at least the age of the three main characters. However, the son was not. He read the fourth book when he was in fourth grade, I believe, perhaps younger. It was VERY upsetting to him, as that book was SO dark, and the issues dealt with were fairly serious. My friend didn't censor, but she realized that he was just way too young to be reading SUCH a dark book. Rowling has said herself that she recommends individuals not read the books if they are younger than the main characters.

Derrick, your Kafka point is I think the one I've been attempting to make throughout this whole discussion. If an individual reads something REALLY difficult, or outside of their ability, maturity, whatever, especially at a young age, they may never come back to it. I really think I don't like Hawthorne because I didn't really "get" the Scarlet Letter in high school. I think if I went back again, I'd like it. It's never as an ageism issue, I just would hate to have people miss out on something great because they were exposed to it, for whatever reason, at the wrong point in their lives. It's definitely an interesting issue. One with which I will have to deal when I have my own children.


message 33: by Inder (new)

Inder | 82 comments With media being what it is these days, it seems to me that books are the least of a parent's problems! Kids are exposed to a huge amount of negative, demeaning, and violent imagery and language, on TV, in movies, and on the playground. Of course, this was true when I was growing up too.

It seems to me that good parents should do their best to mediate all of this in a way that encourages critical thinking and the development of strong moral standards. You don't want to protect your kids' innocence to the point that they become naive or gullible. The goal is to help them grow up into responsible adults, not remain innocent into old age. On the other hand, you want this process to happen gradually.

If this was easy, there wouldn't be an entire aisle at the bookstore devoted to "Parenting Guides."


message 34: by Derrick (new)

Derrick (afderrick) | 92 comments Inder I completely agree with what you are saying. If it was up to me I would not even own a TV but my wife would beg to differ on that. I think kid's should be encouraged to read and discouraged (to some extent, not all TV is bad) to watch TV. The only question or though I am trying to consider here is how much a parent should guide what their child reads.


message 35: by adaku (new)

adaku Okeke (adaku96) | 2 comments yeah alot of books that probally weren't 4 my age. i'm only 11


message 36: by adaku (new)

adaku Okeke (adaku96) | 2 comments is everybody in this group over the age of like 30


message 37: by Derrick (new)

Derrick (afderrick) | 92 comments I'm only 26... 30 is SO old!


message 38: by Chloe (new)

Chloe (countessofblooms) | 140 comments I'm with Derrick- 30 is SO old! I can't even comprehend being that old yet.


message 39: by Inder (new)

Inder | 82 comments Ha. Ha. Thanks guys.


message 40: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer (myfriendjenny) | 14 comments I read a lot of things that were above my reading level growing up. Some I could appreciate at the time, others I wouldn't really 'get' until I re-read them years later.

I'm 34, so it must be time to ship me off to the old folks home. :P


message 41: by Chloe (new)

Chloe (countessofblooms) | 140 comments Don't forget the Depends, Jenny! :P


message 42: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer (myfriendjenny) | 14 comments I'll forget them. The mind is the first thing to go. ;)


message 43: by Deanne (new)

Deanne | 682 comments If as a child I'd waited for my mum to pick out a book for me, I never would have read anything. Even now I don't think she reads more than 2 books a year.
It was Dad who took myself and my little sister to the mobile library at the ages of 7 and 5,(28 years ago, bloody ancient history). He never looked at what we read but the librarian used to point out books.
At junior school,(7-11) there was a list of books for each year but by the time I'd got to the end of the 3rd year I'd read all the books for the 4th year.
I've had books suggested to me by teachers, school librarians and older siblings. I'm one of five and we all inherited Dad's love of reading.
As for the TV, it depends what you watch, I grew up with the BBC, ITV and channel 4 which showed a lot of documentaries about other countries and history. Have to admit now I'm in Canada I miss Auntie Beeb, 80 channels here and nothing on.
Think I'll go back to my books.



message 44: by Christophe0808 (new)

Christophe0808 | 16 comments I'm 13 but I have complete freedom in what books I read. When I was one or two years younger, she flipped through some of the books I read. She knew there were some adult materials but she didn't really stop me from reading that.


message 45: by Stacie (new)

Stacie | 140 comments I too had a lot of freedom as a kid with the books I chose to read. While my dad read (mostly SK and mostly in the bathroom) my mom was not a reader and finds it odd that I have always had such an affinity for books. She swears I came out of the womb with a book in my hand!

I have a 5 year old and believe that whatever she wants to read (OK, no porn just yet) is going to be OK with me. The very first book I ever read to her was "Catcher in the Rye" when she was first born - I have subsequently read to her aloud pretty much anything that I have been reading from school from Shakespeare to Emerson and she really enjoys it.

As for TV and movies, my daughter is very sensitive to certain movies; for example there is no way she could see Wizard of Oz, as she would have nightmares about flying monkeys until she was 30! However, I have read her 3 of Baum's books, including the original Oz, and she loved it and it didn't frighten her at all. I think I am more inclined to censor what she watches than what she reads. I hate the word "censor" but that is essentially what I am doing.


message 46: by Derrick (new)

Derrick (afderrick) | 92 comments Stacie, I was thinking about when I have kids reading aloud to them whatever book I happened to be reading. My wife disagreed with me and said that if the books are over their understanding they will just tune you out and not listen or care about anything. Once the child is old enough to read or start learning to read I would like to read along with them, me read aloud and them follow along until they can read it well themselves.

You are saying you read to your daugther whatever you were reading at the time, has this been successful and an enjoyable experience?


message 47: by Macy (new)

Macy | 17 comments That's funny, Kieffala, Eyes of the Dragon was my first SK novel as well. Started me on a long and happy trail of all his books! I remember when I was 12 or 13 my mom wasn't too keen on me reading so much SK so I made a deal that she would read The Stand if I read Hawaii (Michener). She read the Stand in about 2 days, couldn't put it down. It took me several long, tortuous weeks to get through Hawaii, but I did. It was sort of a learning experience for both of us, to share the books that we liked and for her to understand that even if we didn't agree on choices, I could still have that freedom.

Some things I think are fun to read before you really "get" them. I remember the first time I re-read the Narnia books when I was in high school and all of a sudden there was a very different story there! Many of the books I've read multiple times give me a very different story depending on where I am in my life.

I believe that it's more important to let your kids read what they want and have an intelligent discussion about it rather than saying "You're too young" or "I don't agree with what this book says".


message 48: by Eileen (new)

Eileen Anderson (eila) Stacie, I'd also like to hear a bit more about your experience reading adult books to your daughter. I don't have kids yet, but in my daydreams I've always liked the idea of reading what I'm reading out loud to them. Then I come up with reasons why it wouldn't work and conclude that they'd end up resisting it, so I love to hear that it has actually worked for you!


message 49: by Macy (new)

Macy | 17 comments When I was younger my mom would read aloud to me quite a bit. She read the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings at least twice, Little Women, some Madeliene L'Engle books, and a bunch more that I can't remember at the moment. It is one of my favorite memories of being with her. It also helped introduce me to some books that I would have had a hard time reading myself at that age - I don't know how well I would have gotten through some of the elvish and other unusual words in Tolkien's books.

When I was even younger I learned to read by sitting on one of my parents' laps and following along as they read various kids books to me.


message 50: by Stacie (new)

Stacie | 140 comments While I don't necessarily think Sunshine "gets" everything that I am reading, I do believe that she enjoys it. She gets to sit with me and hang out doing something that we both enjoy. She would sit on my lap for an hour and just listen. Sometimes now she will be coloring and want me to read aloud while she is doing that. If she doesn't understand a word, she stops me and we talk about it and we talk about what we have just read if she needs to.

As I said, I have been doing this since she was born (and actually read out loud when I was pregnant) and I truly believe that it has enhanced her vocabulary dramatically. She actually started talking when she was about 9 months old, so I do think it makes a difference.

And, while I previously said she may not understand what I am reading, I do remember a moment when I was truly amazed because I had read "Walden" to her as an infant and then had to read it again for something else, so read part of it aloud to her and she said "hey, we have read this before!"

So, I do believe that it benefits her in many ways. I am a big believer in opening up dialogue with her now, so when she is older she will feel comfortable to do so on her own and will have the skills to critcally think through problems and other issues that may arise outside of the realm of the written word.


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