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May 2012
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On the Selection of Bedtime Reading for Children

Note to teachers:

If you assign a book that is historical fiction about the industrial revolution in which all of the protagonist’s friends die dramatically during a factory fire, please let me know the contents of the book so that I can make sure my daughter does not read it at bedtime. My daughter has an extremely vivid imagination and a strong propensity to identify with book characters. She has cried her eyes red and spent an outraged hour telling me all the gruesome details about the deaths and the dishonesty of the industrial revolution factory owner. I suppose this is the point of the book. We must learn history in order to not repeat it. However I can not in good conscience turn off the light and leave my child alone with these dark and terrible thoughts. An application of the Wordgirl audio book may be insufficient antidote to allow sleep to arrive at a reasonable hour.


4 comments to On the Selection of Bedtime Reading for Children

  • caelonna

    I’m 23, and I too have a vivid imagination and propensity to identity with book characters. I have learned it’s best to get someone who knows me well to review books for me if they happen to be written by an author I haven’t read before.

    • At different points in my life I’ve had far more trouble with vivid imagery than others. There were a couple of decades where anything with threatened children was too intense for me. Your solution is a good one.

  • Heidi Robbins

    I think teachers often underestimate the impact that books can have on sensitive and imaginative children. My mother insists that many of my the-worst-will-definitely-happen attitudes is because she let me read (and research) The Diary of Anne Frank at 9 and Uncle Tom’s Cabin at 11.

    Sorry you and your daughter had to go through that.

    • She is fine this morning. The timing was the hardest bit. This one affected her so strongly because it resonated with fears she already has about house fires and death of loved ones. I do think that some of those fears will get a new airing for a bit. I don’t think that a book can make a child anxious, but it can definitely increase the anxieties for a child who already is.