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Suddenly Sunday: Reintroduction, Blog Move Update, and Bookish Controversy

April 18, 2010

Since The Sunday Salon is closed to new members, Muse in the Fog has created Suddenly Sunday.

Reintroduction

I have been blogging about homeschooling, in various places, since about 2004, and I have owned a book blog since May, 2010. It came to my attention that there was a whole community of avid bookworms out there, reviewing and blogging about books, and I HAD to be part of it. 😀 Now I’ve finally decided to take the leap to having my own domain name.

I am a forty-something mom with three kids who are growing up without school; our educational style could best be described as unschooling. I am a jack of all trades and master of none. I’ve worked as a substance abuse therapist, youth counselor, reader advisor at the library, daycare provider, and a dozen other things. I currently work part time from home; I’m a book publicist and online writing teacher.

For as long as I can remember, I have loved books beyond all reason. As further proof that God has a sense of irony, none of my kids — so far — have turned out to be big readers. However, I have learned a tremendous amount through their interests. I have discovered the merits of video gaming, really quirky independent films, reptiles, wolves, zombies, and other things I never expected to delve into. It’s been a pretty wild ride.

Blog Move Update

I decided to switch from Blogger to WordPress as a platform. Overall, it’s been super easy. The main disadvantage to WordPress, from what people have been telling me, is that you have to pay to customize your CSS. This is not an issue for me since I’ve discovered, from experience, that I am not clever enough to customize my freakin’ CSS anyway. I’m not really a “fancy” person, and by playing with the options on one of WordPress’s templates and making my own banner, I managed to come up with a layout that suits me really well.

The one thing I haven’t managed to do is move my “followers” over here. It is perfectly doable — there are clear instructions online for how to set up an account with Google Friend Connect, install it in WordPress, and move your followers over from Blogger. It can be done, but I can’t do it. When I paste the appropriate code into a widget, all I see in my sidebar is — well — code. I believe I have some kind of bad electronic karma — for some inexplicable reason, certain things just don’t work when I do them. 😛

It’s not a huge issue. If someone wants to follow through a feed reader, or using their Blogger reading list, it’s easy to add my URL manually. Still having a button you can click to follow a blog is a nice feature. For people who — like me — read too many blogs, it’s just convenient to be able to add somebody to your list with the click of a button. Oh well.

During the next few weeks, I’ll continue going through old posts and cleaning things up a bit until I’m happy with my new virtual home. Thanks for joining me here!

Bookish Controversy

Censorship, like charity, should begin at home, but unlike charity, it should end there. — Clare Boothe Luce

There has been some discussion among book bloggers about banned or challenged books, a perennial topic among librarians and other bibliophiles. This may have been sparked by the buzz about a popular YA author being challenged.  It is no secret that I am not a fan of Twilight and found the relationship between Bella and Edward offensive. Of course, that’s neither here or there. I would never entertain the delusion that my point of view outweighs the opinion of someone who relishes Meyer’s storytelling ability. And I wouldn’t disrespect the right of any teen to make her own reading choices, with guidance from her parents and teachers when appropriate. Adolescents, like everyone else, deserve better than that.

Another problem with limiting access to books is that, while it might protect kids from things that are unsuitable for them at this point in their development, it closes doors to discussion. One of my favorite bloggers, Jenny, is a high school teacher. She likes the Twilight series, and enjoys discussing these books with her students. She has issues with the Edward/Bella relationship and has found this to be a great springboard for discussion about healthy versus unhealthy relationships. Isn’t this the role of a teacher or parent? To nurture a student’s ability to think critically and better understand her own needs and values?

I’m not suggesting that a parent should never set limits on what books, movies or video games a kid chooses. After all, guidance — along with some good old fashioned limit setting — is part of the job description. But why should other people make decisions for us about what our kids need to be protected from? And as parents, shouldn’t we think carefully about whether a book or movie that makes us squirm is actually a rich opportunity for discussion? Depending on a child’s age and developmental readiness, the benefits of reading or watching something together, talking about things that bother, us can far outweigh the liabilities.

I used to cringe when my kids saw drunkenness and promiscuity on T.V. But let’s face it, the older ones aren’t babies anymore. And we’ve had some great conversations about these things. Is moderate drinking O.K. for adults? What about teens? What is “moderation” anyway? What are the risks of premature or excessive drinking and other drug abuse? Both my husband and I have a history of alcoholism in our families, so we’re always mindful of opportunities to talk about these things. What about premarital sex? What are the positive and negative aspects of that choice? Is the gratuitous “bed hopping” you see on T.V. really “normal”? Does it make people happy? Or is sex really about commitment and intimacy? Are there lines that shouldn’t be crossed?

What bothers me most about the media aren’t the lifestyle choices reflected, though they do leave a lot to be desired. What really horrifies me is gratuitous violence. Of course this, too, has been tested and stretched to the limit. I have a husband who REALLY likes violent movies and video games — he’s even managed to get me into watching Quentin Tarantino, which shows that anything is possible. 😛 So of course my older kids are getting onto the gritty stuff, too.

I’m going to get some flack for this, but I have come around to supporting my preteen son’s love of shooter games. I’m not entirely comfortable with it, but I see how much he’s learned from it in terms of strategic thinking, problem solving, collaborative planning, and more. And it’s led to some excellent discussions about war. He’s obviously thoroughly aware of the difference between fantasy violence and the evil of real life violence. And these games have sparked some good discussions. What actually happened in World War II, anyway? Could the war have been prevented? Is war ever justified? Is any kind of violence ever justified, and when? What happens to a person who experiences combat and has to take human lives?

When discussing banned or challenged books, my position is clear. The famous Clare Luce Booth post, above, pretty much says it for me. But when it comes to raising our own kids, I struggle, and my attitudes are continually changing. I suspect I’m not alone.

What is your view on censorship, or on parental limits, for kids’ and teens’ reading and other media choices?

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. April 18, 2010 5:20 pm

    I am 100% anti-censorship and banning. I honestly believe that the majority of children who have involved parents are capable of dealing with controversial issues. As you say, guidance is necessary. Parents should know what their children are reading and what the content of the book (or film, tv show, etc) is and be able to converse with them about it.
    For example not allowing children to read Twilight because of “sex issues” is a bit naive. Children know about sex pretty darn early these days, and acting like it doesn’t exist or is taboo does not foster anything good. How can a parent “guide” if they “ignore”? Okay, I’ll stop ranting now.

    • April 18, 2010 8:33 pm

      Thanks, Trisha — I can always count on you for a thoughtful, well-argued opinion. 😉

      From what I can recall, there wasn’t any sex in Twilight. If there had been, maybe it would’ve alleviated my boredom a bit. 😛

      I have heard that Bella and Edward do have sex in the later books. That is kind of funny to me. The appeal of the original vampire classics, like Dracula, was the subliminal sexuality — apparently the Victorians could stomach the idea of blood-sucking undead before they could accept actual sex. 😀 Nowadays, it’s not subliminal — they put it right out there.

  2. April 18, 2010 8:07 pm

    Love the new place! And you have your own domain name too. Wow! Looking forward to more.

  3. April 19, 2010 12:22 am

    Love the new look! 🙂

    I agree with what you said. I’ve never been a fan of bans, and the moment I heard about a ban, I only rushed to read the book. I think it’s ok with categorizing a book as a discussion book. I say this, because my parents are not big into reading. My dad reads a lot, but he and I never had any talks on what I should or should not read, when I was growing up. And I have read plenty of racy stuff as a kid. In households like mine, it would be better if parents knew which books are controversial. Parents can actually use that as a reason for open discussion, like you said. But total bans? Boy, no one benefits out of that!

    • April 19, 2010 1:59 am

      Thanks, Aths. 🙂 I was on a steady diet of racy stuff, for a while, when I was a young teen, and I can only remember one book that my mother outright banned. I hid it under my mattress and read it on the sly — then I took dog eared the “good” parts and took it to school to show my friend Donnie during Algebra. Such an education I was getting. 😛

  4. Susan permalink
    April 19, 2010 3:26 am

    Wow, your new blog looks great!

    No real opinion on censoring. I’ve never had a problem with what my kids read, generally we share the same taste luckily for me. I probably wouldn’t ban them from anything though – I prefer discussing things with them and letting them know why I don’t agree with a book’s content or subject matter. If I found that my kids were becoming obsessed with a particular book or author that had content that was objectionable or dangerous we would have to have some serious discussions and I’d probably institute a short time of censorship to limit the author’s influence. I know from my own experience that I occasionally take on the story’s theme or the author’s viewpoints and make them my own even when they really aren’t me – kind of like trying on someone else’s mindset or values for a while so I would probably guard against that happening with my kids. That sounds awful I guess. My kids are their own persons and entitled to their own views on life, etc. But, a brief cooling off period can be helpful and necessary at times to ensure that they make up their minds and form their views in a clear-headed manner. Usually, discussing things does the trick and I haven’t had to face removing content away yet.

  5. April 19, 2010 6:16 pm

    Just popping in to say that I am continuing to follow you despite your bloggish impersonation of a criminal trying to lose a tail 🙂 Hope you like this new home.

  6. April 20, 2010 2:02 pm

    Love the new blog. I much prefer wordpress. Everything is just simpler and cleaner.

    I’m completely against censorship but of course, there are always grey areas such an extremely racist material and violent porn. They post huge dilemmas.

  7. April 21, 2010 4:21 am

    Congrats on the move!!

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