As a book lover if you tell me a book was censored I’d immediately want to read it to find out why. (Yep, I’m kind of a rebel like that). But as a mom, I’m starting to see that censoring material for kids definitely has it’s place.
My son loves when we tell him stories so I checked out a book of fairy tales at the library last week and I was shocked. And I’m not even talking Grimm – just the average fairy tale like Jack who steals from a giant and then kills him to get away with it. So I start thinking maybe I should censor stories.
I asked my parents and they never censored the stories for me. I was too young and naive to analyze the underlying meaning of the stories. They were pure fantasy and it is only now as an adult that I find the messages shocking. So maybe I don’t need to censor them.
Besides, sometimes censoring only makes things worse. Do you know the 5 Little Ducks Song?
5 little ducks went out to play
Over the hills and far away
Mother duck says quack, quack, quack quack
But only 4 little ducks came back
. . . 4 . . . 3 . . .3 . . .1
No little ducks came waddling back.
Now, when I was growing after no ducks came back we sang “But when the daddy duck says quack, Quack, QUACK! 5 little ducks come running back.” In essence, the ducks never listened to mommy but when daddy comes home they suddenly need to pay attention.
At my son’s preschool at the end of the song a sad mother duck goes out and in her saddest voice quacks and the ducks come back. Sure, we no longer have the problem of the ducklings only listening to daddy. Instead, we have no daddy at all. Plus, the ducklings only listen to mommy when she’s sad. I’m not sure the censorship was better than the original.
My favorite quote about children’s literature is by C.K. Chesterton who said
Fairy Tales are true. Not because they tell us dragons exist but because they teach us dragons can be beaten.
I love stories and I love fantasy. Through life we’re going to slay dragons, meet mean, old trolls and hopefully encounter plenty of magic. I believe by introducing our children to these creatures in story we provide them a safe environment to work out their fears and arm themselves with tools they can use when they encounter these problems in the real world.
So where do you stand on censoring stories for your kids?