It’s no secret that I check mass quantities of books out of the library, for both me and my children. If I’m familiar with the book, or someone I know is familiar with the book and recommends it for my kiddos, I might pass it along without looking through it. (Then again, I might not–not if it looks fun!) If I don’t know anything about a book other than the title and its plot summary, however, I tend to give it a look-see first. Sometimes I do it because the book looks good and I’m afraid I won’t ever get to it if it disappears into the older girls’ bedroom; sometimes, however, I’m actively evaluating a book to see how I feel about giving it to my child to read.
Now, I’ve never taken a book she wants to read away from her (although I had her stop after the third Harry Potter for quite a while, since she’s only 9 and used to get scared rather frequently during her nighttime reading). I would, you understand, if I felt it was completely inappropriate; Judy Blume’s Forever is not at all appropriate for a 3rd grader, and Piers Anthony doesn’t need to happen at my house any time soon. (As far as I’m concerned, by the way, V.C. Andrews never needs to happen, because ewww, incest!) For the most part, however, I would like to follow Joseph Smith’s admonition to ‘teach correct principles and let the people govern themselves.’
What my kiddos bring home is one thing. (I did cringe a bit at the Beverly Cleary first love stories, but strictly in an ‘ugh, already?’ kind of way.) What I introduce them to and provide for them, however, is something else entirely. My oldest is into mysteries, and so I keep an eye out for titles that she might like–and then I preview them, because I’d rather not have her reading anything too creepy just yet. The last three I’ve checked out of the library have given me pause for that very reason, and I can’t help wondering if I’m underestimating her, or if it’s entirely reasonable to want her to wait a year or three before she’s reading about teachers being murdered (or being murderous, really). At the moment I’m leaning towards compiling a list of mysteries she should possibly wait until middle school to read. I just want so badly to find the right line between letting her discover and make her own choices while not pushing her to grow up any faster than she already will.