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Misc. Archive > Outdated Books--What Do You Do?

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message 1: by ABC (new)

ABC (mary6543) | 341 comments What do you do about outdated books? For example, books that are racially insensitive? Or books that show dinosaurs with their tails dragging or call Pluto the ninth planet?

message 2: by Bernadette (new)

Bernadette (bernadettesimpson) | 45 comments Use them as a starting point for discussion! Discuss copyright dates - where to find them and why it´s important to check them - and the changes in knowledge and attitudes over time. Find a newer book to compare them to.

message 3: by ABC (new)

ABC (mary6543) | 341 comments Bernadette~~You are in Egypt? Is it hard to find books in English?

Because I am in Japan, many of the books in English are old and sometimes outdated. Beggars can't be choosers so we just live with it. I actually find myself having more trouble with tv shows than with books--saying, "That's not true! Lions don't live in jungles!" etc. (from the movie George of the Jungle)

message 4: by Shannon (last edited Sep 23, 2010 12:46PM) (new)

Shannon (sianin) | 129 comments Kirei, my son loves the mystery series by Enid Blyton but since they were written in the 1930's the attitudes about girls and women are very outdated. He picked up on it and we did talk about it and how that was the way things were and how they have changed. We also talked about whether he thought the changes were good or not and how his life would be different if those changes had not occurred. I try to bring everything back to his own experience when I can.

It is harder with outdated scientific or encyclopedic books but again, to put them into the historical context and perhaps even project about how the child thinks things we take as fact today will change in the future.

The real difficulty would be if you do not have access to current books.

message 5: by Kathryn, The Princess of Picture-Books (last edited Sep 23, 2010 01:14PM) (new)

Kathryn | 6158 comments Mod
Such great comments already! I don't really have anything to add except that I agree it's important to have discussion rather than just rule out out-dated books completely. I think the important thing is to show all the nuances, how society influenced people to think a certain way. Trying to look at their actions and feelings in the context of that day and age and then compare it to today--rather than just comparing it to today. (Especially for fiction books.) What always amazed me with stuff like that when I was a kid is how someone could be an awesome parent, let's say, but then be prejudiced! It was so troubling to me. It helped when my mom explained about the sensibilities of the time and how it was not "right" even back then, but at least I understood better how there could be such a seeming dichotomy.

For non-fiction, I think if you have access to the internet you can go a long way in correcting the inadequacies from outdated stuff with online resources.

I agree fiction would be challenging without access to current books as a comparison, but it sounds like you are definitely on the right track already and your son is very perceptive! :-)

message 6: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Vegan (lisavegan) | 1077 comments Maybe I'm in denial, but I'm hoping that by the time kids get to some of the older astronomy books Pluto will have its planet status reinstated. ;-)

message 7: by Shannon (new)

Shannon (sianin) | 129 comments BunWat, some very good points and you reminded me of one of my pet peeves and that is that when someone is very forward thinking or has a great grasp of science (or a good imagination) they are perceived as ahead of thier time while those of the opposite temperment are a result of their time. Are we not all products of our own time whether we do well or ill?

message 8: by Kathryn, The Princess of Picture-Books (new)

Kathryn | 6158 comments Mod
BunWat wrote: "Yes in some ways we have made great progress in social justice, but I don't want to teach history as a straight line progression from ignorance to enlightenment because I don't believe that's accurate. "

So well said! That is what I was trying to get at, but you've conveyed it so much more clearly :-)

message 9: by Kathryn, The Princess of Picture-Books (new)

Kathryn | 6158 comments Mod
BunWat wrote: "That's an interesting peeve Shannon, I had not thought of it in that light but now I may be adopting it as a peeve of my own! You are right. For example the writers of the enlightenment including..."

So true, Shannon! (And BunWat) And I'm adopting it as a pet peeve, too! ;-)

message 10: by Cheryl , Newbery Club host (new)

Cheryl  (cherylllr) | 6659 comments Mod
Kirei wrote: "What do you do about outdated books? For example, books that are racially insensitive? Or books that show dinosaurs with their tails dragging or call Pluto the ninth planet?"

Or weasels as cruel, owls as smart, etc.? Picture books are rife with stereotyping and anthropomorphizing. Is this a good place to develop a list of the different things to watch out for, so that when we're in the library picking up a stack for our little ones we don't get sucked into pretty pictures without being alert to problems?

message 11: by Shannon (new)

Shannon (sianin) | 129 comments I think we can begin discussions even with young children but perhaps my definition of young is different than others. For instance, I started reading the Blyton books to ds when he was 4 and we definitely had discussions then. With books that I didn't like but he wanted to have them read to him, I would read them once or twice but then they would miraculously disappear. (Yes, the frequency thing is important). I do not go out of my way to choose books that are outdated but if they show up then we will tackle them.

Some of the classics have some very difficult ideas that must be dealt with if we are to read them to our children (or as our children read them themselves and sometimes children will self-limit). Case in point Peter Pan in the very early part of the book when the parents are discussing giving up a child because they can't afford it. Some historical context and discussions about poverty now but we did not continue with the book as it was too difficult for my ds at the time.

message 12: by ABC (new)

ABC (mary6543) | 341 comments Most problematic are old, classic books that are insensitive. For example, I was reading "Henry Huggins" and there is a part where they are playing Cowboys and Indians and the Indians say, "Ugg."

They updated the drawings on Henry Huggins, but I get the feeling it is mostly to appeal to a modern young crowd.

message 13: by Eastofoz (new)

Eastofoz Shannon is that the Fabulous 5 series by Enid Blyton or something like that? My son adores that series. He has it in French though (it's called Le Club des 5).

message 14: by Shannon (new)

Shannon (sianin) | 129 comments Yes, Fabulous Five, Secret Seven and some Adventure books. She wrote many. He really liked Secret Seven and even named our dog after the dog in those books (Scamper). He figured that his girlfriends wouldn't put up with being left out of all the adventures just because they were girls and recognizes that some of his girlfriends are better tree climbers and athletes than the boys.

message 15: by Eastofoz (new)

Eastofoz Yeah she was a very prolific author it seems.

message 16: by ABC (new)

ABC (mary6543) | 341 comments I the same time, I feel very privileged because English is "the" foreign language in Japan, so I can't complain.

I haven't seen Edith Blyton here. Harry Potter is big here.

That is too bad your own book is already outdated!!!

message 17: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 8430 comments Mod
Lisa wrote: "Maybe I'm in denial, but I'm hoping that by the time kids get to some of the older astronomy books Pluto will have its planet status reinstated. ;-)"

I second that, I think Pluto got a raw deal. And, if there are objects bigger than Pluto, why not simply add them as new planets.

I think using older books to start discussions on outdated ideas is great. And, simply ignoring outdated books and refusing to discuss outdated ideas is not going to make these ideas go away, especially outdated cultural ideas.

message 18: by Manybooks (last edited Sep 24, 2010 08:50AM) (new)

Manybooks | 8430 comments Mod
Abigail wrote: "Some great posts, and some great points, everyone - thank you for getting this conversation going, Kirei!

I think that age has a lot to do with how I would answer this question. When young readers..."

Especially with picture books, one has to be careful. I agree with Abigail here. I don't know if many of you are familiar with the classic German picture book Struwwelpeter: Fearful Stories & Vile Pictures to Instruct Good Little Folks. For me, this is a book that I would generally consider too graphic, too outdated for young children. I know that when my grandmother read the story of the tailor who came to cut off the little boy's thumbs as punishment for sucking them to me when I was about four or five years old, this completely freaked me out (my little brother sucked his thumbs and I was absolutely positive that the tailor would come to our house). This is a classic picture book, with disturbing images and brilliant illustrations, but if using this book to discuss the different methods of parenting etc. between the late 19th and 20th century, for example, it should be used when a child is a bit older and will not be potentially traumatised by the images depicted, or actually believe the message being promoted simply because it is written or being read to them.

message 19: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Vegan (lisavegan) | 1077 comments For fiction, I think many older books have merit. For non-fiction, if they're truly hopelessly outdated, I suspect that every subject has newer, more up to date books, and I'd push those.

message 20: by Shannon (new)

Shannon (sianin) | 129 comments BunWat wrote: "I like Enid Blyton well enough, but I really prefer E Nesbit. Maybe its the attitudes thing? I just always liked her girls better. Even when I was a kid.

“Hum,” said Father, when he had loo..."

I can see why you would prefer E Nesbit. I would too but since others gave the Enid Blyton books to ds those were what we read.

message 21: by ABC (new)

ABC (mary6543) | 341 comments I should have typed Enid Blyton above. And it is Edith Nesbit. I was getting them two confused. (I haven't read any of their books.)

message 22: by Cheryl , Newbery Club host (new)

Cheryl  (cherylllr) | 6659 comments Mod
Also try Eleanor Estes for a girl with some moxie. I read The Middle Moffat several times as a kid, and I was nothing like her!

message 23: by Ronyell (new)

Ronyell (rabbitearsblog) | 213 comments I agree with everyone that books that are racially insensitive or sexist should not be thrown out completely. I think it's important to have discussions at book clubs or just in general about why people thought that was how society was supposed to be molded back then and how we have changed society's expectations at that time over time.

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