Censorship – wise parents do it regularly.

We were in the midst of the candy tithing a few years back, when in a group someone commented, “What a good program for helping the kids learn to give.”

One of the dads in the group said, “I’ve been tithing my kids candy for years.”  A chuckle went up, but the point was made, “We share things in our family, and as a parent, it is under my supervision that the kids make sure they share with me, too.”

Censorship looks different at home than it does at school.  You determine what comes into your home via print, TV, internet.  You would never welcome a stranger about whom you know nothing to babysit your children.  Likewise you are vigilant about what they take in physically, educationally, psychologically.  As parents, you set the rules for your children and within the domestic church of your home, you are the bishop.  I pray your diocese is cooperative for the most part.

Reading and censorship is the challenge at hand.  Getting some kids to read is a really hard sell, others read every word on the cereal box and any other print material that comes their way.  For kids who will read anything it is easier to guide them well toward that which will most uplift their hearts, minds and souls.  Then comes the challenge for the kids who don’t like to read as much, and are drawn toward some of the early reading series, that while not overtly negative, yet, reflect a lack of respect for which your child would spend a LONG TIME in time out if they reflected to you in reality.  Some kids read the book, and seem to go on unscathed.  Others take it in a bit more and the come down a notch in the respect they display to their parents, working against that which we would have for them.

You, as parents, are the ones who decide the rules for your child.  We, as a Catholic School, are here to support you in your role as parents.  We strive to help your children thrive as good members of your family.

library time

Here kids are enjoying an A to Z Mystery, wholesome good literature by all counts.

Some books are great, others are over the edge and the decision to exclude is easy.  RL Stine has a series that many kids like.  The series of young adult literature which follows the one for elementary children has many inappropriate scenes.  We don’t have carry the books in our library, in part because of the content of the children’s books, but primarily due to where the books lead the children.

I’d like to hear from you as parents about whether you think some of the books we have in our collection are worthy of being there.  On one hand with technology use your kids are up against content much more potentially damaging than words on the written page (we use vigilance here with a filter that keeps me out of half of the content I need to see that is not offensive!).  On the other hand, just because there are other issues we don’t ignore the ones that on our radar.  Whatever we do we will not ban books with a lot of fanfare.  The last thing kids need is for us to highlight inappropriate books to them.  That’s why this is a parent newsletter not one for the children.  We bring many issues before you we would not bring before the children.

We have read most of the books in our library but if there is another book about which you have a concern please let us know.  I’d particularly like to hear from you about Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Big Nate and/or Junie B. Jones.  Nothing will happen today or tomorrow, but as we look forward and strive to be a support to you in our building of family life, I’d like to hear what you have to say.  Feel free to comment here, or let me know in person what you think.  Thanks, and may God bless us all.

Signature ball point pen





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3 responses to “Censorship – wise parents do it regularly.

  1. maggie

    The Junie B JOnes character is disrepectful to her parents, friends and family. She also uses improper grammer throughout all of the books. When my daughter received them as gifts, I would read them aloud, and stop to correct how Junie was speaking. Then I would stop to talk about Junie’s rude behavior. I finally just stopped reading them alltogether and told my daughter not to ever check them out from the library.

  2. Olivia's mom

    I had thoughts similar as Maggie when my first child began reading Junie B. Jones books. I even asked her to stop reading them as well, but I have since reconsidered. At one time my daughter owned 24 Junie B. books – long after I stopped reading them aloud. (I did tire of it) Yes, Junie B. is precocious and rude, and her speech isn’t always grammatically correct. Junie B. sees the world through her own lens and often that lens is self-centered and sassy. BUT -and this is a big butt (Junie B. humor there) – her character is also funny in simple, silly ways. Kids relate to her feelings and feel assured that just because they have thoughts that are selfish or even mean, it doesn’t mean they are bad people. Junie B. is loved, she has friends, and she always learns a lesson – although it takes 9 or 10 chapters to get there. We are all tempted by sin and children are amazingly adept at naming the sin and offering forgiveness. They forgive Junie B. They do not pick up on her bad habits, they root for her to “figure it out” and be nice to May, accept 2nd place gracefully and befriend the lunch lady. And – they become readers. Junie B. is probably responsible for hooking many reluctant young readers on chapter books. Let’s face it – the worst Junie B. moment is better than most everything our kids are exposed to on TV. My daughter who read all 24 Junie B. books – twice – is now a writer herself, a reader of all kinds of literature and doesn’t talk back. She has fond memories of Junie B.
    When I taught 5th grade I used a Junie B. book in writer’s workshop to model “voice” in characters – she has voice! I also used it to show how authors develop characters, and plot stories with problem after problem as a means for drawing us in and sticking around for the solution. The grammar is an issue, but not for kids. They read right through it. And if they can’t, then a conversation about the beautiful nuances of language is priceless.
    It has been 8 years since Junie B. was a topic in our house. Two weeks ago my first grader brought home “Junie B., First Grader: Jingle Bells, Batman Smells! (PS so does May!). I’ll admit, my first reaction was, “Oh no, here we go again,” but then we sat down to read. We laughed at the words she used (puffery, bladdermouth) and talked about the sayings, “more than you can shake a stick at”, “off her rocker” and “invasion of piracy” (yes, “piracy”, she said). These books are not easy for young readers – there is a lot inferred in Junie B. books, but reading and talking about what Junie B. thinks is happening and what is really happening is a great lesson in reading comprehension. (The teacher in me loves that!) Three days and a few too many Junie B. snide comments later we came to the end of the book. Junie B. discovers peace and goodwill, and realizes that giving the Squeeze-a-Burp as a gift felt ALMOST as good as receiving it. “Then my whole face got happy. Only I don’t even know why.” We know why – she’s good on the inside and we forgive her when it doesn’t show on the outside.

    • Junie B. Jones reflects a messiness that seems so true to life. Little children are not often ready for the messiness in their black and white views of reality, or are they? Developmentally many would say we are crazy as Catholics, expecting seven year olds to understand the Eucharist. Yet, they can, I see it every day in the growing excitement in the second grade classrooms. They are not going to the depths of the mystery of God, I’ll never exhaust that in my life as a consecrated religious, yet they “get it” enough to be so excited we have to visit the restroom repeatedly on First Communion Day, and they really don’t need many reminders to smile, the joy exudes from them.

      So in the end, what are we doing with Junie B. Jones? If your child starts acting like her here, we will be talking regularly. We aren’t pushing them, but we aren’t striking them from the known world here, either. You, as parents, have the call for your child. Olivia’s mom, you summarized it well, pointing out the good that it served in your family. Some others prefer that she not be brought into your home, I fully respect that. We need to be here for all. I can support you in not having your children read them, I can support you if it’s all you can get your children to read…..now if they are in fifth grade and we are still with Junie B, it’s time to move on.
      I’d also like to thank all who responded. Promoting thought is a good thing, it helps us be intentional in what we do and do not do, helping us be more fully human. May the One who became one of us long ago, help us to be the kind of people that can praise Him well.

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