Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A Children's Book?

I have read that the Harry Potter books should only be judged according to the standards of its young audience. Aside from the obvious corollary to this - that adults should be prohibited from reading the books - there are further flaws in the argument.

First, assuming that a twelve year old does not care about poor plotting, absent character development and self-contradictory settings is patronizing and, I believe, a complete dodge. Megan McArdle expresses it better than I do:

"But the best children's fantasy does something else: it gives one the illusion that
the magical world is as consistent and real as one's own world - that it exists,
just barely out of reach."

More important is the question of what our children should be reading. There comes a point where you have to get over the stunning fact that your child is actually reading a book and think about what he or she is actually reading. Twelve year olds love professional wrestling and Bart Siimpson, too, but if you are thrilled that Billy is at least watching TV, you should have your parenting license revoked (yes - I use the v-chip and don't have cable) . A good book exposes a child to systematic thinking, consequences, clear expression of ideas and rhetorical skills. A poor one discourages critical thinking or the awareness of the motivations of others. J K Rowling does not fail utterly in these regard but to say that young adult literature is best judged by young adults is short-sighted in a way that highlights many of the problems in parenting of the last few decades.


Bronze said...

Do you think the V-chip is worthwhile? For example- who is producing the ratings the V-chip gets set with? Should the v-chip have more choices? for example, should we allow, lets say, 16 bits worth of citizens groups (churches, civic groups, family parenting organizations etc..) , each register their own rating system and then allow people to subscribe to any particular groups filtering of the content. This way people can (theoretically) get a choice of parental filtering that may more closely match their own views.

For example, A fundamentalist Christian may not allow their kids to watch any show with too much bare skin it it, but still let them see lots of violence, blood, maiming and crippling of sinners.

'Cause, after all, Pat Robertson says thats OK.


Scott Ferguson said...

I would say that my experience with the V-Chip has been net-positive. It is a very blunt instrument but with young elementary-age children the amount of material that needs to be screened out is large. As they get older, I may not be so satisfied.