What was Your First Forbidden Book?

 

152405Jackie Collins has died at the age of 77.

Properly speaking, she was a writer of no talent whatsoever, and certainly of no interest to those of us who have gathered here to discuss conservative politics. As The New York Times explains, “She wrote more than 30 books, many of them filled with explicit, unrestrained sexuality, and sold more than 500 million copies worldwide. Her first novel, “The World Is Full of Married Men,” was published in 1968. Australia and South Africa banned it because of its frank depiction of extramarital sex. Other earlier works included “The Stud,” in 1969, and “Rock Star,” in 1988.”

No, Jackie Collins is not especially relevant to the concerns of Ricochet.

And indeed not relevant to my concerns, either — except that for a moment, when I read that she had died, I confused her name with that of Jacqueline Susanne, author of Valley of the Dolls, and a rush of memories came back to me.

Mind you, Susanne died in 1984 and is of even less interest to anyone here than Jackie Collins:

ValleyOfTheDollsValley of the Dolls is a novel by American writer Jacqueline Susann, published in 1966. The “dolls” within the title is a euphemism for pills, and was created by Susann. The term dolls also represents the women in the novel and their mishandling by the patriarchal world in which they are “played” by and dealt with as mere toys. The term also represents the women’s reliance on stimulants, depressants, and sleeping pills, and how substance abuse is reminiscent of children clinging to toy dolls for comfort. …

The book’s narrative is direct and often blunt in confronting social issues such as non-marital and extramarital sex, abortion, mental illness, shunning and shaming, patriarchal male sexism, the “Casting couch,” elitism, male homosexuality, lesbian sex, and classism. It contains profanity, obscenity and sexual slurs, including gay men being referred to as fags.

There is not one word of redeeming literary, moral, or cultural merit in that book. I know that for sure.

But when for a moment this morning I thought she had died — forgetting that in fact she was long since dead — I was saddened. For you see, Valley of the Dolls was the first book I was ever forbidden from reading. And in forbidding me from reading Valley of the Dolls, my father taught me lessons about literature that shaped my life.

LastExitToBrooklynNow — technically, truthfully — Valley of the Dolls was the second book I was forbidden from reading. I was forbidden from reading the first when I was about eight years old. My father had been reading Last Exit to Brooklyn, and it was on the living room coffee table. I picked it up out of curiosity. My mother hadn’t read it, didn’t know what it was about, and thought my precocity in wanting to read a grown-up book like that both adorable and a sign that I must be very gifted and special. As mothers will.

My father, on the other hand, had been reading it. He knew better.

I remember the whispered words “She shouldn’t be reading that, Toby,” followed by an even-more-whispered explanation of what I’d find if I did. I wasn’t supposed to be able to overhear that, but I recall it distinctly, even now. I won’t say what it’s in it: Perhaps some of you might wish to discuss this post with your own kids. An effort to distract me followed. It involved a promise of letting me watch television in the afternoon, which usually I wasn’t allowed to do unless I was sick.

I later (of course) snuck back into the living room, found the book, and read it. I’d never have made it past the first page had I not been told I was too young for it, and I was too young to understand any of it.  I went back in adulthood and read it again, though, and my father was right: Not for kids — no way, no how. Still, since I didn’t understand it at all, it did me no lasting harm.

But the fight we hadShakespeare-and-Co.-Paris-Bookstore about Jaqueline Susann had a lasting impact. I was eleven by then, approaching puberty and on the verge of full-on adolescent rebellion. My father was taking his sabbatical year in Paris. We were on our own; my mom had stayed behind in Seattle. It was 1979, well before the Internet Age. Every week, my Pop would take my brother and me to Shakespeare and Company, the famous bookseller by the Seine, and we’d get to choose a few books to keep us busy all week.

While he and my brother were browsing the other shelves, I opened Valley of the Dolls — which was on prominent display — and was hooked from the first page. I’d never read anything like that before. So when it came time to ring up our purchases, I trotted over with my fascinating new find. My father took one look, curled his lip in disgust, and said, “No.”

“Why not?”

“Because it’s dreck.”

I was shocked. Like most upwardly-mobile, middle-class parents, mine had taught me that reading was inherently good. The more I did of it, the happier they would be. It had not occurred to me before that day that this was only true of some books. I did not know that others might be dreck.

We had a fight in the bookstore that resulted in tears (mine). I refused to select another book. I sulked for an entire week. We had long discussions that week about why some books were literature and others dreck. “The only talent Jaqueline Susann has,” my father said, “is for putting words on a page, one after the other.”

When we returned the following week, my father chose the book I was to read. “Take this,” he said, giving me a copy of 1984. “Then you’ll understand the power of literature.”

He was correct about that, as he tends to be on all matters literary.

I don’t remember how, but somehow I managed to get my hands on a copy of Valley of the Dolls, as well as everything else Jaqueline Susann had ever written. My father’s fear that I’d get hooked on dreck — presumably moving from the gateway dreck of Valley of the Dolls to binge-watching The Apprentice — proved unfounded. When I saw that Jackie Collins had died — and before I remembered which dreck-writer was which — I went back to look up Valley of the Dolls. I’d forgotten every word of it.

wallpaper-580707Yet I remember every word of 1984.

I guess the lesson — if there is any — is that the fastest way to get a kid to read a book is to ban it. But they’re going to read it anyway, so you may as well explain, in detail, why the book is dreck, give your kid a good book to read instead, explain why the good one is literature, and wait until your kid is nearly fifty, at which point, she’ll think, “Thank you, Pop, for teaching me the difference between literature and dreck.”

So, what was the first book you were forbidden to read? How does it stand up to time? What books do you forbid your kids from reading now?

Published in Culture, Education, General, Literature
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  1. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    I won’t repost the photo of the 2-room school where our teacher whispered nicely in my ear, asking me to end my arms-dealing operation.  The same teacher used to read to us after recess, probably to settle us down.  At one point she started a new book and explicitly told us not to read ahead.  So  I went to the town library, got a copy, and read the whole thing. (I would also read all my textbooks the first week of school, and was then bored with them the rest of the year.)

    Before each reading session she’d ask someone to re-cap the previous day’s reading.  One time I was called on to do so, but had miscalculated where we had left off.  The entire class turned around and looked at me, as I was spouting nonsense. Our teacher called on someone else, who gave a good summary.  Then as she was reading the new chapter, nobody else noticed that the events were exactly as I had described.  I was turning red and slinking down deeper and deeper into my seat in the back of the room.  Nobody else noticed that this chapter was the one I had tried to describe, but at one point she did.  She didn’t stop reading, but looked straight at me, maybe a little sternly. I shrugged helplessly and slunk deeper into my chair.   That’s all that ever happened, which I suppose was a good lesson.

    • #31
  2. Aimee Jones Inactive
    Aimee Jones
    @AimeeJones

    Nothing explicitly banned, but I remember feeling like I should hide my Judy Blume books (Deenie or Wifey, I believe was the first one). My parents did not restrict me from reading Amityville Horror, although they correctly warned me from it. They were right and I put it down (and threw it away) about midway through.

    • #32
  3. jzdro Member
    jzdro
    @jzdro

    Is there a prize for being the most boring person on this excellent thread?

    Mom found me at age 8 or so, flopped on the living room floor reading Romeo and Juliet.  She explained that I must stop right away, employing the never-forgotten phrase “That’s too old for you.”  Such a wimp I was that I never read Shakespeare on my own again until 20 years later.

    What did she think – that I would coarsen into an 8-year-old nymphomaniac?

    • #33
  4. Hank Rhody Contributor
    Hank Rhody
    @HankRhody

    Aimee Jones: So I went to the town library, got a copy, and read the whole thing. (I would also read all my textbooks the first week of school, and was then bored with them the rest of the year.)

    I learned not to do that in freshman english. We had My Side of the Mountain. I read ahead because I was bored and it was something to read. By the third time through it (when I was re-reading it for class) I was so unholy sick of it that it’s left a bitter taste in my mouth to this day.

    After that I scrupulously never read beyond the class assignment.

    • #34
  5. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Percival: When I was eleven or twelve, I bought a paperback copy of The Godfather (for the dirty bits).

    I think we all came of age with Sonny and the bridesmaid.

    • #35
  6. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    jzdro: Mom found me at age 8 or so, flopped on the living room floor reading Romeo and Juliet.  She explained that I must stop right away, employing the never-forgotten phrase “That’s too old for you.”  Such a wimp I was that I never read Shakespeare on my own again until 20 years later. What did she think – that I would coarsen into an 8-year-old nymphomaniac?

    I would have said your mom was shrewdly instilling in you a life-long love of Shakespeare, but I guess sometimes the trick doesn’t work?

    • #36
  7. jzdro Member
    jzdro
    @jzdro

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: I would have said your mom was shrewdly instilling in you a life-long love of Shakespeare, but I guess sometimes the trick doesn’t work?

    They wanted to preserve my innocence.  There is a tradeoff to be made when launching such a project, however: the child should not be left so ignorant so long that when the time comes, she has no knowledge with which to defend her own innocence.

    Mom and Dad did not keep us ignorant of biologic facts, but they did keep me unaware of a lot of evil that would shock me later.

    But they did all right, I’d say, working in the 1950s and 1960s on the basis of their own childhood experiences in the 1930s.

    Thanks for making me suddenly recall a set of LPs they must have purchased at a Catholic store, consisting of sample conversations between parents and offspring on sensitive topics.  Wow!  That was conscientious of them: a deliberate attempt at something better than silence or shaming or anger, for example.

    Too bad I never heard more than a phrase or two before the set was hidden away somewhere.  Was Mom’s approach learned from a script?

    Thanks, Claire – here is more to think about.

    • #37
  8. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    jzdro: Too bad I never heard more that a phrase or two before the set was hidden away somewhere.  Was Mom’s approach learned from a script? Thanks, Claire – here is more to think about.

    That just brought back more memories. (It’s childhood nostalgia day, I guess.) Tucked discreetly among all the children’s books on my shelf was a book called, I think, Where Did I Come From? It featured cute chickens, eggs, and kittens, and somehow moved up to the idea that the process by which babies were made involved … memory cannot be serving me correctly, here … a chicken and a puppy?

    I read it just the way I read all the other books on the shelf.

    • #38
  9. She Member
    She
    @She

    I can’t remember any forbidden books of the usual sort, having always gravitated to gender-inappropriate reading such as Sherlock Holmes (read the whole lot of them in fourth grade when I was stuck at home recovering from whooping cough) and the C.S. Forrester’s Horatio Hornblower series when I was in junior high.  For girlie stuff, I preferred genteel bodice rippers of the Georgette Heyer variety.

    But, the first book that caused tension between my parents and me?

    Little Chick-Chick.

    I was two or three.

    It was a tiny little book, ten or twelve pages, about three by five inches, and it was the story of a disobedient little chick who ignored his mother, got separated from her, and his brothers and sisters, and got lost.

    He wandered for hours, getting colder and colder, and hungrier and hungrier.

    Eventually, he found an empty tomato soup can in a ditch, and, cold and hungry, he crawled in there to sleep for the night.

    Fortunately, his mother found him the next morning, whacked him soundly on the bottom, told him she hoped he had learned his lesson, and he was back with his family, much chastened.

    I loved this book.  I carried it around with me, and incessantly plagued any adult who was in earshot to read it to me over, and over, and over, again.

    Every time we got to the part where Little Chick-Chick had to spend the night in the tomato soup can, I would dissolve into loud, inconsolable, floods of tears.

    My mother became distraught.  She hid the book.  I found the book.  She hid the book.  I found the book.  And on and on.

    Eventually, she burned the book.  Yes, she did.

    (Clearly, and fortunately, this didn’t scar me for life.  I don’t resent her for it at all.)

    About ten years ago, in answer to a query I had set up on eBay, I found Little Chick-Chick!  The very one!  I paid what seemed like an exorbitant amount of money to win him in the auction, and I had him FedExed to me.

    I didn’t tell my mother, because by this time in her life, she wouldn’t have remembered anything about him, and she occasionally even had trouble remembering me.

    When the package came, I ripped it open.

    Yes, I cried when I got to the part about the tomato soup can.

    Some things never change.

    And that’s OK.

    • #39
  10. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Hank Rhody: We had My Side of the Mountain.

    I can’t remember a thing about this book except that it was so boring it was a torment.

    • #40
  11. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    jzdro:Is there a prize for being the most boring person on this excellent thread?

    Mom found me at age 8 or so, flopped on the living room floor reading Romeo and Juliet. She explained that I must stop right away, employing the never-forgotten phrase “That’s too old for you.” Such a wimp I was that I never read Shakespeare on my own again until 20 years later.

    What did she think – that I would coarsen into an 8-year-old nymphomaniac?

    That’s interesting.

    I would ban from all kids Romeo and Juliet, but that’s because I am concerned about teenage suicide.

    I have never understood why schools continue to give that play to young kids.

    If you must, then take a moment to slam the book on the desk to get the kids’ attention and say, “Don’t do this!”

    I worry about this a lot. There used to be a code of silence surrounding suicide in the media because people just knew it encouraged people to kill themselves to see others do it. We have become a most irresponsible society in this regard.

    Few things bother me more than this.

    • #41
  12. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    MarciN: I would ban from all kids Romeo and Juliet, but that’s because I am concerned about teenage suicide.

    What about the cultural suicide of failing to ensure that kids have a solid grounding Shakespeare? The great unifying figure in our shared Anglophone heritage?

    Do we ban kids from reading Hamlet, too? Lots of suicide references there.

    You’re going to get some major pushback from me on this. I don’t think kids should be allowed to reach adulthood without reading all of Shakespeare’s major works. I deeply believe we’ll fall apart without that.

    No Shakespeare, no understanding who we are.

    • #42
  13. HeartofAmerica Inactive
    HeartofAmerica
    @HeartofAmerica

    I’m pretty sure that I read Valley of the Dolls when I was in the seventh grade, followed by other Jackie Susann books, Sidney Sheldon, etc. books. As long as I was reading, my parents didn’t really care. My Mom was an avid reader so sometimes we swapped books. No censoring and I’ve carried that over to parenting my own son. Let him read!

    But the book that had the most influence (and scared the bejeebers out of me) was The Exorcist. None of my friends were reading this in ninth grade, so when the movie was released and they all freaked out over various things, I just laughed. The movie was not nearly as scary as the book.

    • #43
  14. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    I know teenaged girls who are Juliets, through and through. Dangerous to themselves and others.

    • #44
  15. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    HeartofAmerica: As long as I was reading, my parents didn’t really care

    That’s how things were in my home — until the Valley of the Dolls incident.

    I think the discovery that some books were good and some were dreck was considerably more shocking to me than anything I could have learned from reading Valley of the Dolls. 

    Set me up for a total lifetime of literary snobbery, too.

    • #45
  16. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    MarciN: I would ban from all kids Romeo and Juliet, but that’s because I am concerned about teenage suicide.

    What about the cultural suicide of failing to ensure that kids have a solid grounding Shakespeare? The great unifying figure in our shared Anglophone heritage?

    Do we ban kids from reading Hamlet, too? Lots of suicide references there.

    You’re going to get some major pushback from me on this. I don’t think kids should be allowed to reach adulthood without reading all of Shakespeare’s major works. I deeply believe we’ll fall apart without that.

    No Shakespeare, no understanding who we are.

    I love Shakespeare for kids.

    Probably not Hamlet either, however, for young kids.

    Romeo and Juliet is not even on the list of Shakespeare’s top 15 plays from a literary standpoint. He wrote it as a soap opera to make some extra money. As did Mozart with the Magic Flute.

    There is so much Shakespeare to give kids without giving them a play they will relate to so powerfully as young kids. Romeo and Juliet is a play for grownups only.

    As a society, we are constantly holding up suicide to kids as a viable option.

    It’s just  insensitive irresponsible to give young kids Romeo and Juliet.

    We spend our money on the education of kids because we acknowledge that they are impressionable. Then when we select our teaching materials, we seem to forget that underlying principle.

    • #46
  17. Stephen Dawson Inactive
    Stephen Dawson
    @StephenDawson

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    … I don’t think kids should be allowed to reach adulthood without reading all of Shakespeare’s major works. …

    Cool! What are we going to do with them?

    • #47
  18. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    MarciN: There is so much Shakespeare to give kids without giving them a play they will relate to so powerfully as young kids. Romeo and Juliet is a play for grownups only.

    Name one Shakespeare play that doesn’t contain a theme you wouldn’t want a kid thinking about too deeply. I mean … are you going to replace Romeo and Juliet with Titus Andronicus?

    (Don’t tell me you’ll make them suffer through A Midsummer Night’s Dream. That’s dreck.)

    • #48
  19. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    MarciN: There is so much Shakespeare to give kids without giving them a play they will relate to so powerfully as young kids. Romeo and Juliet is a play for grownups only.

    Name one Shakespeare play that doesn’t contain a theme you wouldn’t want a kid thinking about too deeply. I mean … are you going to replace Romeo and Juliet with Titus Andronicus?

    (Don’t tell me you’ll make them suffer through A Midsummer Night’s Dream. That’s dreck.)

    I could and would teach kids almost any other play he wrote.

    Romeo and Juliet is a different emotional experience for kids.

    I’m sorry. No one will ever convince me otherwise.

    That particular play is poison for tenth graders.

    • #49
  20. Ward Robles Inactive
    Ward Robles
    @WardRobles

    Prohibiting a gifted child from reading trashy novels seems pointless to us, especially since our daughter has easy access to far worse on the internet. We just hope that our general disdain for “dreck” rubs off on her. So far it has worked.

    Our daughter began reading at college level in middle school but has shown little interest in reading books on her own in the way that pre-internet smart kids did. I partly blame the public school system which sucks the fun out of leisure reading by requiring on-line tests to get points which are a significant part of their grades.

    • #50
  21. Rubysue Inactive
    Rubysue
    @Rubysue

    I was a science fiction nut when I was growing up. Every week, my parents and I would go to a nearby shopping center and eat at a little Italian place there, then walk around the stores (this was an outdoor center and we’re talking 45+ years ago). The center had a Hatch’s bookstore and I was able to get one or two paperbacks from the sci-fi rack every week. Dad would always grump a bit and ask if the book was “good” (implying that he didn’t want me reading anything that had sex or too much violence in it) but usually took my word for it. Most of the books were Clarke, Bradbury, Asimov, collections, and novelizations of Star Trek episodes, so no problem there. I didn’t tell him anything different when I discovered Harlan Ellison and Robert Silverberg. Thank goodness he didn’t thumb through some of those tomes. I always thought books by Collins, Susann and others of that ilk were boring, yet somewhat disturbing, like watching plastic surgery.

    • #51
  22. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    MarciN: I’m sorry. No one will ever convince me otherwise.

    Off the top of my head — and I’m sure this list isn’t exhaustive — all of the following plays involve one or more gruesome suicides: Caesar, Lear, Anthony and Cleopatra, Macbeth, Othello …. heck, I can barely think of a Shakespeare tragedy that doesn’t involve suicide. And the most famous soliloquy in the history of the English language is about suicide! How long do we wait before we allow kids to recognize the words, “To be or not to be?”

    And what about the plays that involve homicide?

    • #52
  23. She Member
    She
    @She

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    MarciN: There is so much Shakespeare to give kids without giving them a play they will relate to so powerfully as young kids. Romeo and Juliet is a play for grownups only.

    Name one Shakespeare play that doesn’t contain a theme you wouldn’t want a kid thinking about too deeply. I mean … are you going to replace Romeo and Juliet with Titus Andronicus?

    (Don’t tell me you’ll make them suffer through A Midsummer Night’s Dream. That’s dreck.)

    I was at boarding school in England at the 5th/6th/7th grad age.  We were only 20 miles from Stratford.  We read Midsummer Night’s Dream, R&J, Merchant of Venice, and we went to see Henry V and, MofV in Stratford.

    At no time, I don’t think, did it ever occur to any of us that the behavior of some of these characters, in some of these plays, something that we should emulate.  When that subject did come up, it was brought up in the context of emulating the heroic, virtuous characters, with a discussion of why they were the heroes, even if they were flawed, as we all are, in other respects.

    I think this is the piece that’s missing today.  Because it’s no longer acceptable to identify the good from the bad, the heroes from the klutzes from the goons, in literature, and even in life, we say–“don’t read that, it’ll make you suicidal”–rather than discussing why behaving like Juliet, or Romeo, may not be the most admirable way to go about things, and why great literature may be written about people we wouldn’t want to emulate.

    When Mr She’s kids were quite young, we went to see Gremlins at a local theater.  I’ll never forget the dozens of young children squealing with delight when the mother in the movie grabbed one of the objectionable little creatures, stuffed it in the kitchen blender, and flipped the switch.  Stone-faced adults were dragging their reluctant little ones out of the theater in droves.

    I’ve always thought about this as an early phase of ‘let’s sanitize all the fairy-tales’ and putting trigger warnings on the old cartoons.  The kids rolled with it.  They knew it was a movie.  (And I doubt that many of them went home and stuffed the family cat in the food processor as a result, just as I don’t think reading Hansel and Gretel ever encouraged women who become grandmothers in later life to shove their children’s children in the oven.)

    I am very clear that some subjects are not fit for children.  But I think we underestimate them, and our powers of persuasion and the merits of discussion when it comes to difficult subjects.

    • #53
  24. Autistic License Coolidge
    Autistic License
    @AutisticLicense

    Some of you are old enough to remember that 1960s science fiction and mystery paperback novels almost had to feature a hippie chick with a flip hairdo and a lime and orange bikini on the cover. Holding a pistol. Or next to a spaceship. And absolutely irrelevant to the novel.

    These unintentionally made me a more careful reader, because whenever my parents saw one, they’d pick it up and look worried and ask about it, and I’d have to explain the book in some defensible way. And dreck is hard to defend. If it’s dreck, your parents will think you’re just into the cover and you’ll be embarrassed.

    • #54
  25. John Hendrix Thatcher
    John Hendrix
    @JohnHendrix

    Leaving aside outright porn–which mom banned–books weren’t banned in my parent’s household.

    That said, part of the reason for why books were never banned is I made sure they didn’t find out everything I was reading. Specifically, I never let mom figure out what subject matter was in William S. Burroughs’ Naked Lunch.  She would have–of course–banned that book post-facto.

    I was around fourteen at the time.

    Around that time I also read a number of other books that would have deserved banning, with cause. Examples include,  The Story of O, various anarchist-type books describing forbidden antics that would do an adolescent no good (e.g., how to make explosives) and so on.  To my best recollection I’d say Naked Lunch was the first ban-worthy book I read.

    • #55
  26. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    MarciN: I’m sorry. No one will ever convince me otherwise.

    Off the top of my head — and I’m sure this list isn’t exhaustive – all of the following plays involve one or more gruesome suicides: Caesar, Lear, Anthony and Cleopatra, Macbeth, Othello …. heck, I can barely think of a Shakespeare tragedy that doesn’t involve suicide. And the most famous soliloquy in the history of the English language is about suicide! How long do we wait before we allow kids to recognize the words, “To be or not to be?”

    And what about the plays that involve homicide?

    But not fourteen-year-olds in love.

    I could teach Romeo and Juliet safely because I would interrupt the spell of the emotion evoked in the children reading it. I would know that out of thirty kids in my class, at least one of them is thinking about suicide.

    When I’ve been with kids who are studying Romeo and Juliet in high school, I always go on rants. I do it on purpose. I want to break the romantic spell it casts on the kids.

    “Suicide is not a good thing. You’ll accomplish nothing with it. You won’t be around to enjoy the pain you put your parents through. If you want to hurt your parents, at least do something you can watch and enjoy.”

    :)

    Or, alternately, “Please don’t hurt yourself to get back at your parents.”

    • #56
  27. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Fourteen-year-olds don’t relate all that well to the other suicidal characters in Shakespeare’s plays.

    That’s the difference.

    • #57
  28. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    What gets to me about Romeo and Juliet and young kids is that the very reason teachers use it as a first introduction to Shakespeare is the very reason they should not teach it unless they understand the risks.

    Shakespeare isn’t considered the most important literary figure of all time without reason.

    He knew fourteen-year-olds. Better than anyone does or did. And he definitely understood teenage suicide better than we do.

    And the irony here is amazing to me. Of course the kids relate to these characters. They absolutely do.

    Please, keep this out of the hands of young kids unless you are prepared to deal with its emotional impact.

    Adults always look at me as if I have two heads when I rant about Romeo and Juliet not being suitable for immature audiences. :)  But teenagers I’ve spoken to about this play understand right away my fear of it. They know their friends.

    We assume all kids have a warm home to go to. That is not the case.

    • #58
  29. Nick Stuart Inactive
    Nick Stuart
    @NickStuart

    Don’t recall anybody ever forbidding me to read anything

    Les Cent Vingt Journées de Sodome would probably qualify if I’d bothered to ask permission from anyone though.

    After a couple pages I decided the author was really, really sick. Plus slogging through it with two years of high school French was way too much work.

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  30. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    She: the Little Chick Chick story was so funny and so so precious – probably would be banned today because Chick got a spanking! Amazing to influence you so much you sought it on eBay – same here. My dad read to me as a kid – my favorite called Fifty Famous Fairy Tales – I found a copy on eBay too – the simple hand drawings I remember vividly.   We didn’t have books in my house – my family read the newspaper, subscribed to magazines including Readers Digest, Hunting and Fishing, Women’s Day, my dad loved Ellery Queen, etc. I was raised by my aunt, uncle and dad. They worked, cleaned, gardened, etc. and in the evening watched TV and played cards, visited neighbors for downtime.  My dad brought home books for me all the time – as well as albums and 45’s – first Beatles 45 – bought me a xylophone, a harmonica (still have). My aunt subscribed to Children’s Digest for me. So I grew up loving to read, but not into novels at all – mostly non-fiction and biographies.

    When I started asking questions…….I was given a book that explained sex by showing body parts and how life is created – I must have found it confusing because when I realized how everything really worked I was shocked!….we didn’t discuss it.

    We turned out ok!  Today I LOVE books, and old books of all kinds, including fiction. But I had to look up meaning of the word dredge!

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