Son j is reading The Island of the Blue Dolphins for class. He’s in fourth grade, and they are all reading it together – two chapters in class each day, and one chapter at home. Husband J and I were thrilled that he’d get to read it and excitedly told him how great it is and that he is so lucky.
Yeah, that was all well and good until he gets to the point where otters, his favorite animal by the way, are killed and skinned. He was inconsolable. We dealt with it the best way we could, and we think he understands what we were saying, or at least trying to say. The whole thing’s been on my mind a lot today.
On my lunch I used Google to see if any other parents had advice or reactions. You know what I got? I got “why is this book being read by such young children!” “this book is too violent for this grade”.
Last night at the dinner table Husband J, when asked about his day, said that he had trainings, one of which was an “active shooter” training. Son j asked what that was and we had to tell him, our 9 year old, that he does active shooter trainings every year and has since first grade. He asked, “Oh, is that the one where we have to hide and keep very very quiet?” He didn’t really understand why they had to do it, but he knew it was important. We felt the “why” of that one was best left till he is older.
My kid sees practicing response for a shooting as normal, but you’re worried that a story of survival that is a freakin’ Newbery Medal winner is too violent. For that matter as children my generation had to practice the stupid and utterly worthless “dunk and cover” (newsflash, we were surrounded by three Air Force bases, in case of nuclear attack, that desk was not going to be much help.)
Yes, he’s upset about the otters being killed. Good for him. He’s not a sociopath. You know how I’m going to keep it that way? I’m going to have him continue to read books that challenge him, and make him feel, and make him question.