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The Cheapening of Children’s Literature

Young children are not reading, and if that’s not sad enough, the methods used to get them back into books don’t make the grade.  I wish a more concerted effort could be made to reinvigorate and re-engage young readers through authentic and well written books.

Unfortunately, fecal matter and toilet humour is the order of the day. Take this book featuring expletives on every page:

A book full of foul language is tonight generating debate over whether it should be sold in New Zealand.

Anti-family violence campaigners are up-in-arms over the imminent release of the offensive parody of a children’s bedtime book.

The book, entitled Go the F*** to Sleep, looks and sounds like an ordinary kids’ book, but has swear words on every page.

“The book features a father trying to get his young child to sleep – a common experience of parents. It is littered with offensive language, but most disturbingly, looks and sounds just like a children’s book,” said Family First director Bob McCoskrie.

Go the F*** to Sleep by Adam Mansbach was written as a spoof, based on the author’s experience as a Dad.

“It started with some sleepless nights and a Facebook post where I jokingly said I was going to write, I said ‘look out for my forthcoming children’s book, go the F*** to sleep’. And a couple of weeks later actually sat down and wrote it,” Mansbach told the Today Show.

The book is due for release in the US next week, after being available online for months, and a leaked PDF has gone viral via websites like Facebook.

Now, it is Amazon’s bestseller on pre-orders alone, and turned the American author into an overnight sensation.

McCoskrie understands the book is now about to hit shelves in New Zealand.

“I think it sends all the wrong messages,” he told ONE News.

The advocacy group are worried about the effects it may have on dysfunctional parents, and are now calling on bookstores to ban its sale.

“While in an adult context, the book may be harmless and even amusing, we have grave concerns about its effect on aggressive and dysfunctional parents, and also on children who are attracted to the book,” said McCoskrie.

McCoskrie said it trivialises verbal abuse and intolerance of children at a time when New Zealand is battling family violence.

“We’d rather parents spent their hard earned money on a book on quality parenting, or a book that they can enjoy reading to their child.”

He said he is already written to two book distributors, Booksellers Association and Paper Plus New Zealand, urging them not to stock it.

But book sellers say it will be on shelves in a month.

Wellington’s Unity Books has already ordered ten copies for its parenting section.

“It’s a de-stress, at the end of the day, or at the end of the night – have a laugh, sit down together. The idea that someone would take all of it to heart, and abuse their children because of it is a bit hard to imagine really,” said Unity’s Cameron Hyland.

As for the book ending up in the wrong hands – the kids.

“We trust the parents will know, this goes on a high shelf!” said Mansbach.

McCoskrie said Family First is now considering a complaint to the Censor’s Office.

I am certainly not in favour of banning books and I believe that much of this story is driven from conservative alarmist, but I do lament the lack of interest kids have in reading and the methods used to re-engage them.  Young people will read this book and fall instantly in love with iot whether it was intended for them or not.  Just when we needed more imaginative and well written alternatives …

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One Response to “The Cheapening of Children’s Literature”

  1. rbhatch Says:

    It’s sad but true, words that we used to get our mouths washed out with soap for uttering are now commonly accepted language

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