When Books Challenge Personal Values

 You began reading to your child  before he was born. As he grew, you began collecting shelves of colorful picture books. Now, you buy and borrow as many books as you can to keep your child reading and in love with the written word. You think that there can never be enough books for your child, until he chooses or is assigned one you disagree with.

Maybe it’s the language. Or maybe you don’t think the main character is a good role model. Perhaps the book directly conflicts with your family’s faith. Whatever the reason — you definitely do not want your kid reading that book. What should you do?

If the objectionable book is one your child chose, sit down with her and explain why you don’t think the book is appropriate. Help guide her toward books that you think are more appropriate, but keep the child’s reading ability and interests in mind. Often times, children quickly outgrow what’s offered in the juvenile section, but they aren’t yet ready for typical teen books. Advice on finding appropriate books for advance readers can be found here. As parents, we are always teaching our children how to make good choices from how to dress when it’s raining to what to eat for breakfast. Teaching them to choose what they read is no different.  This article describes one family’s rule which led to their child learning how to carefully choose his own books.

But what happens when you totally disagree with a book your child has been assigned to read? Kate Messner, a teacher and author, shares her viewpoint on that situation in this blog post. If you feel you must challenge a book at either the school or public library, please go through proper channels. Talk to the librarian before you talk to the news media. Remain calm and polite, and remember that public schools and libraries serve a diverse population.

At the middle reader age, it is important to provide some guidance in selecting books, but also allow your child some freedom to explore his or her own interests. Again, teaching your kids how to choose books is much like teaching them to make any other decision. Certainly you don’t want them wearing their shorts in a snowstorm, but on some days it doesn’t hurt to let them wear polka-dot socks.