Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Don't hurt your kids brains with fantasy, let them read Shakespearean plays with bawdy jokes

The Imagination of the Child

I'm concerned that this is the second time this week I've had to use this clip...



Okay, where do I start?

I get, kind of, what he's saying. Kids' brains are still developing, so it would be a good idea for parents to monitor what they're reading and talk to them about it and be, you know, responsible parents.


I mean...

Just throwing a bunch of widely different books into the vague category of "fantasy" to prove that it's dangerous to children shows that the author doesn't seem to have really read them.

Harry Potter, while containing frightening images, gets into things children need to learn: the uncertainty of the world, the idea of a solid, universal morality regarding how we treat and react to others, the need to fight against wrong doing and injustice even when it is supposedly lawful to commit injustices.

Lord of the Rings is an amazing book that is all about fighting against the odds to, at the very least, weaken evil. It is about struggling with temptation, and the need for unity regardless of cultural differences.

Game of Thrones is...

Okay, yeah, don't let your 8 year olds read Game of Thrones, seriously. It's a great book series, and I think Martin makes some good points, especially about the unfairness of the world in general (and the need to fight regardless of that unfairness), but it is not a book for kids, it is a book for adults.

I've yet to properly read Terry Pratchett, which makes me a heretic. Don't worry, I will fix that soon enough.

Anyways, the point being, Whiting doesn't actually explain what it is about these books that is so dangerous to developing brains. He is very vague, and goes on about needing "special licenses" for it. I'm even more angered by his injunction to buy books for "the beauty in the text". DUDE HAVE YOU EVEN READ LORD OF THE RINGS? Tolkien's writing is absolutely lyrical, and the average reader is left with an awestruck, bittersweet feeling by the end.

I'm also bothered that he references authors such as Shakespeare, Keats, and Shelley. Shakespeare and Shelley may have written beautifully, but they contain plenty of sexuality and violence to go along with it. Is this what he's worried about? See, we don't know. He calls fantasy books "sensationalist literature" which, ironically, is what the books he says are great used to be considered.

I can only come to two conclusions. One, Whiting wants attention for his school, and the best way to get that is to go the good ol' Laura Mallory route and put Harry Potter and demons in the same blog post. The second is that he's a foolish man who shouldn't be running a school because he can't even explain why he objects to certain books, and relies on scare words to do his talking for him.

By all means, think about what you read. Think hard, compare, talk about it. But don't condemn it without doing so first.


  1. ....Because Shakespeare clearly never writes fantasy. Nope. No witches, fairies, prophecies, ghosts, or anything like that in Shakespeare.

    In a related story, for years concerned parents have been trying to make sure that children's math curricula are as dry and boring as possible.

    And I would never let my kids read Shelley. Tim Powers has shown me that he was in league with vampiric nephilim who wanted to take over the world.

    1. Ah, I can't wait to get to that. I'm going to start the first book once finals are over.

    2. Also, that article is hilarious. Medieval weaponry will turn you to the occult? I'd better tell Dale we need to get rid of our sword then.