Monday, April 18, 2011

Pre-reading for our kids' sake

If you've glanced over at my sidebar from time to time, you've noticed I have a daughter who is quite the reader. Her 2011 goal is to read 250 chapter books, and she just passed number 100.

For the most part, the books she reads are very innocent. They include titles from the Cam Jansen series, Babysitters Club series, and Judy Blume classics. But occasionally she picks up ones from the library I am unsure on.

She's only seven, so I want to make sure the things she reads are appropriate. If I've never heard of a book, I usually do a couple of things:

*Ask her how old the characters in the book are. If they are twelve or under, the content is usually (but not always) pretty clean.
*Flip through the book. The dialogue usually gives me some kind of an idea on the appropriateness of the book.
*Check the book out on Goodreads. I've found almost every book I've looked for on that site, and the reviews usually fill me in on a book's content.
*And if I'm still not sure, go ahead and read it myself.

She recently brought home a book called Stone Horse, which is in the Mustang Mountain Ranch series. She told me the main characters were sixteen and had boyfriends. For me, that sent up a red flag. I informed her I would be reading it first.

What did I find? A really enjoyable read.

The book was free of inappropriate language. It had a few elements that were a little scary, such as wolves hunting wild horses, but I thought she could handle those excerpts. My main concern was the boyfriend/girlfriend issue. There were only two references: one where the boyfriend kissed the girl's forehead and another at the end where they kissed (it spared the reader any details).

By reading it myself, I was able to determine that this book was fine for my daughter. I think it's important to put forth the time and effort to stay informed on the media choices our children make.

I've had friends ban the Captain Underpants series from their homes, and I know a few who don't let their kids read the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books. (My daughter avoids boyish things like the plague, so she's never been interested in these books yet).

Have you ever pre-read a book before letting your child read it? If so, what ones have you had to say no to?


Deborah A. said...

I haven't pre-read any books for my son because he's only 18 months. :) But I plan to for my kids. I don't think there's any reason why I shouldn't be involved in what my kids are reading. If anything, it will give us conversation topics, right?

Bonnie R. Paulson said...

I plan on doing this for my kids. As it is, they pour over my anatomy and physiology books I have lying around. Ugh. So funny when they ask what the red valves are in the heart. that discussion was fun!

We Are A Happy Family said...

I have read the How to Train Your Dragon books outloud so I can change the name of characters and some of the language. Every once in awhile I forget about the one particular name, "Big Boobied Bertha," and plow right through it.

Anna said...

I actually enjoy reading YA books including ones for the younger age group. I've been reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid myself and find it so funny. I did read a little bit of it to my son (age 6), but he doesn't really understand the humor. He sees it as being mean to each other and doesn't like having it read to him.

I think it depends on your kid and what they can and can't handle and whether they are the type to want to copy behavior that is read.

My oldest is the 6 year old, and he is just getting into chapter books. He wanted to read Ready Freddy series. The siblings call each other names and pick on each other sometimes. I read it to my kids at night and either skip over the name calling or say it but we talk about how you shouldn't call each other names.

I read a ton and lately I've told me kids about how much I love to write and that I like writing stories and they are impressed. :) I'm hoping to some degree they follow in the footsteps. I'm proud of how much my son loves to read right now.

Maggie said...

Deborah--Yeah, probably don't need to pre-read Brown Bear, Brown Bear.... haha.

Bonnie--Anatomy huh, they might come up with a few good questions!

Kristina--Wow, that's not a very nice name for a children's book! Good idea to edit it.

Anna--I'm sure your kids will watch and learn from you as you write. My novel was named after my daughter and when it was released she took it to show and tell. She was so excited to show her teacher.

Beth said...

I try to preview my kids books as much as possible (even sometimes the children's books). Call me overprotective, but my husband and I say there is so many good books,movies out there why waste time with ones that have some of that not so nice stuff in it. I am also one who will not allow my son to read Captain Underpants or Diary of a Whimpy kid. Quite often we've found that a lot of the things are are 'really popular' are often the ones you want to stay away from.

Rachelle said...

Wow, I'm just going to bookmark this--better yet print off your list--and let my daughter pick from it! :) Thanks for stopping by my blog. I love your name cuz I have a Maggie.