Hey, Hazelle … about "that book…"

by Vyckie

100_4954

For her 13th birthday, I got Hazelle a ticket to Seattle ~ she’ll be leaving tomorrow to spend Spring Break with Laura. When Laura lived here with us, she and Hazelle became pretty good friends ;-)

This morning, about 5 minutes before leaving for school, Hazelle (who is a 6th grader) asked me to write a response to the letter/book report she wrote for me as a class assignment. I scribbled out a letter and she’s off to school ~ here’s what I wrote:

Dear Hazelle,

Thank you for the letter telling me about the book, The Giver ~ which you are reading in school.

Back when we were home schooling and attending home church, I heard about a really terrible book (worse than Harry Potter) which “they” were promoting in the public schools ~ that book was called The Giver. I published the review in our paper as a warning to other parents not to let their kids read it because they might get brainwashed into thinking that euthanasia and socialism are normal and acceptable.

I am so glad that you are in school now ~ your reading skills have improved considerably and I’m so relieved that you are able to write a book review ~ but the best part is that you can read and learn about all these ideas for yourself and form your own opinion.

Your description of The Giver is quite interesting ~ makes me think that I might just want to read the book myself to find out what all the controversy is about.

Love, Mom

Back in our “quivering days” (Q.D. ~ LOL), I pre-read every book before giving any of them to Angel to read. I could write an entire treatise here about the books which were on our “approved reading list” ~ the ones I liked best are the same books which I recently sold on eBay as part of my “purging” process ~ but you all really don’t want to get me started writing about Elsie Dinsmore and the G.A. Henty books ;-)

I realize now how limiting that policy can be ~ it ensures that the children can never know more than the parents and makes it highly unlikely that they’ll get any ideas which Mom & Dad haven’t already thought of. In the fundamentalist world, that degree of parental control and indoctrination is viewed as a positive thing. As Jonathan Lindvall admonishes homeschool parents in his “Bold Christian Parenting” seminars ~ true Believers must “Dare to Shelter.”

  • Anonymous

    Oh, you should SO read The Giver ! It is an amazing book, the story is beautiful and the themes are thought-provoking.And the person who said it promotes socialism and euthanasia got it utterly, painfully wrong. On the level of saying The Lord of the Rings is terrible because it promotes using rings of absolute power to take over the world. Is that review on the internet ? Because it would probably be a fun read…(on reflection, maybe the reviewer felt the book didn’t condemn socialism and euthanasia enough, but all I can say is it’s a better book than that)

  • aimai

    There are so many wonderful children’s books out there–a wrinkle in time, Lord of the Rings, Taash and the Jesters. I think there are certainly some things that kids aren’t ready for but its not generally the ones that freak people out. I’d be more worried if one of my daughters read the kind of popular romances I read as a teen because that was the era of a vogue in soft porn style rape fantasies. Man, give me the amazingly strong and interesting female characters that are available today who can have sex lives without being forced into it.We like some weird stuff, in our house. In the not weird category of course my older daughter loves the Tamora Pierce books. In the weird category we love to read Giovanni Guareschi’s The Little World of Don Camillo about a slightly left of fascist village priest and the communist Mayor and the talking Christ on the cross in a little italian village. aimai

  • Anonymous

    Oops, sorry… that was me.— Caravelle

  • Anonymous

    I actually won’t let my daughter read Elsie Dinsmore. I’ve read enough of it to realize 1. its nearly impossible to clean up the racism in it, and its not gentle like Mark Twain its nasty stuff. 2. I don’t agree and don’t want my daughter to be exposed to Elsie’s god. When she’s in high school, she can explore Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God et al. Until then, I’d rather she not get nightmares from a seemingly innoculous children’s book.Never read Gentry. But, my 12 year old is so engrossed in Tolkien there’s really no need to seek it out. I’ve always assumed if its approved by The Vision Forum then its got to be on par with Elsie. Eh, I gave him a copy of Edgar Allen Poe to entice him when he comes up for air from Tolkien. Similiar time period, way more interesting reading material.Jo

  • Xara

    I also highly recommend Tamora Pierce’s books. I found them as an adult and have read them all multiple times. I have even met her and she is a really nice person. Her books are all about increasing girl’s self esteem.

  • aimai

    And, of course, the Pullman Series “His Dark Materials.” Don’t be put off by the movie. The books are amazing. And very, very, thought provoking on the religion and corporatism angle. As for us grown up wimmens, I recommend Wen Spencer’s novels–her “alien taste” series which is so complicated I couldn’t possibly explain it. And her delightful “engineer girl marries elf” series Tinker and Wolf Who Rules about a kick ass girl science genius living in an alternate Pittsburgh that flips back and forth every month between our earth and a parallel universe earth ruled by elves.aimai

  • Sabayon

    “I published the review in our paper as a warning to other parents not to let their kids read it because they might get brainwashed into thinking that euthanasia and socialism are normal and acceptable.”That’s actually the opposite of what The Giver says. Oh well. I recommend The Series of Unfortunate Events. Kids love them and will happily read all through the series and it promotes strong female characters, using creativity and learning to solve problems, and non-violence. They are also excellent vocabulary builders.

  • Breezy

    I definitely recommend reading The Giver; It’s quite possibly my favorite book. Considering the main theme of it, I’m not surprised that people who want to maintain a restrictive social environment would ban it. Of course, they fed you that “euthanasia and socialism” line because while those topics are discussed, they don’t want you to know the REAL reason they don’t like it. :)

  • Linnea

    Interesting theory, Breezy. I thought they were just being dense about the message of the book.Now that I think about it, some years ago, a highschool English teacher in my town had her students reading Margaret Atwood’s book, The Handmaid’s Tale. A bunch of parents raised a stink about it, because, they said, there was a sex scene involving a man and two women. I thought that was kind of ironic, because if you read the book, that scene is about as anti-erotic as you can get. But the book is very critical of fundamentalist Christianity . . . maybe they didn’t want to come out and say that was their objection.

  • Jadehawk

    now you guys made me curious, and i wanna read “the giver” too. must check if the local library has it.

  • Jadehawk

    now you guys made me curious, and i wanna read “the giver” too. must check if the local library has it.

  • EmK

    Most any U.S. library and probably a fair few British and Aussie libraried should have The Giver, Jadehawk (if not, the latter can probably order it). It won several major literary awards for children’s literature and the author is quite well-known.I read it when it first came out (although I was in high school, not as young as Hazelle is). I remember thinking it reminded me of other creepy Big Brother-esque fare like 1984 and parts of a Wrinkle in Time. As an adult, I’d say I guess it bears some resemblance to Never let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. But I haven’t read it in quite some time, so I can’t remember. I read it in Catohlic school, by the way.

  • EmK

    Most any U.S. library and probably a fair few British and Aussie libraried should have The Giver, Jadehawk (if not, the latter can probably order it). It won several major literary awards for children’s literature and the author is quite well-known.I read it when it first came out (although I was in high school, not as young as Hazelle is). I remember thinking it reminded me of other creepy Big Brother-esque fare like 1984 and parts of a Wrinkle in Time. As an adult, I’d say I guess it bears some resemblance to Never let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. But I haven’t read it in quite some time, so I can’t remember. I read it in Catohlic school, by the way.

  • arianadream

    Ariana says:I was a bit underwhelmed by A Series of Unfortunate Events. The plot of all the books seemed the same after a while, and the big questions in the series never got answered – it just sort of petered out and nothing was ever really resolved. That said, I did love the vocabulary use in the books.Some books I enjoyed greatly as a young adult included (keeping in mind I loved reading fantasy) Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain Chronicles and anything by Robin McKinley – although be careful, although I love most everything I’ve ever read by her, some of her books are great for younger readers and some are definitely adults-only. (Be wary of Deerksin and Sunshine, both excellent but not for children.) More recent books I’ve enjoyed that are good for kids include Peter and the Starcatchers (a wonderful retelling of Peter Pan) and Ella Enchanted (much better than the movie). For non-fantasy, I highly recommend Morning Girl (historical fiction about pre-Columbus native Americans). I could go on and on, especially if we talk about adult reading material as well! More later perhaps. :) So much to say, and this is my first comment on the blog…I’ll have to post more another time as I continue to digest all there is here!

  • arianadream

    Ariana says:I was a bit underwhelmed by A Series of Unfortunate Events. The plot of all the books seemed the same after a while, and the big questions in the series never got answered – it just sort of petered out and nothing was ever really resolved. That said, I did love the vocabulary use in the books.Some books I enjoyed greatly as a young adult included (keeping in mind I loved reading fantasy) Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain Chronicles and anything by Robin McKinley – although be careful, although I love most everything I’ve ever read by her, some of her books are great for younger readers and some are definitely adults-only. (Be wary of Deerksin and Sunshine, both excellent but not for children.) More recent books I’ve enjoyed that are good for kids include Peter and the Starcatchers (a wonderful retelling of Peter Pan) and Ella Enchanted (much better than the movie). For non-fantasy, I highly recommend Morning Girl (historical fiction about pre-Columbus native Americans). I could go on and on, especially if we talk about adult reading material as well! More later perhaps. :) So much to say, and this is my first comment on the blog…I’ll have to post more another time as I continue to digest all there is here!

  • morgan

    I love The Giver…it’s about growing up in an environment where everything is controlled and euthanasia of the young/elderly is acceptable…and then slowly waking up and seeing the reality of the situation and escaping…it is actually very relevant to escaping from a patriarchal religion.

  • morgan

    I love The Giver…it’s about growing up in an environment where everything is controlled and euthanasia of the young/elderly is acceptable…and then slowly waking up and seeing the reality of the situation and escaping…it is actually very relevant to escaping from a patriarchal religion.

  • David Harmon

    You might also be interested in Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar series. The series is quite lengthy (25+ books!), but these are light fantasy, and read quickly. The first book, “Arrows Of The Queen”, was her first published novel, and you can definitely “see the seams” in that one, but she got better fast. Lots of strong women, a deeply humanist outlook, and a a distinctly jaundiced take on that whole “soulmates” thing…. She’s also got a couple of other fantasy series — “Elemental Masters” and the “Hundred Kingdoms” — but I haven’t gotten around to picking those up yet. (Only so much shelf space….)

  • David Harmon

    You might also be interested in Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar series. The series is quite lengthy (25+ books!), but these are light fantasy, and read quickly. The first book, “Arrows Of The Queen”, was her first published novel, and you can definitely “see the seams” in that one, but she got better fast. Lots of strong women, a deeply humanist outlook, and a a distinctly jaundiced take on that whole “soulmates” thing…. She’s also got a couple of other fantasy series — “Elemental Masters” and the “Hundred Kingdoms” — but I haven’t gotten around to picking those up yet. (Only so much shelf space….)

  • Angelia Sparrow

    I…did not like The Giver.I have a problem with books where I can poke holes in the world-building on the first pass. (the population numbers do not add up in any possible way) But, being a SF/fantasy writer myself, I’m REALLY picky.OTOH, Madeline L’Engle and Lloyd Alexander both do wonderful YA. I liked Lois Duncan too, because I was into horror novels, and Mom decided she’d rather have me reading YA horror than Stephan King.My kids like Artemus Fowl, Harry Potter, A Series of Unfortunate events and those dreadful Eragon things. My eldest is getting pickier. She pronounced Twilight unreadable.

  • Angelia Sparrow

    I…did not like The Giver.I have a problem with books where I can poke holes in the world-building on the first pass. (the population numbers do not add up in any possible way) But, being a SF/fantasy writer myself, I’m REALLY picky.OTOH, Madeline L’Engle and Lloyd Alexander both do wonderful YA. I liked Lois Duncan too, because I was into horror novels, and Mom decided she’d rather have me reading YA horror than Stephan King.My kids like Artemus Fowl, Harry Potter, A Series of Unfortunate events and those dreadful Eragon things. My eldest is getting pickier. She pronounced Twilight unreadable.

  • aimai

    My oldest daughter wouldn’t read Twilight and felt, having been raised in a Buffy oriented household, that it was too sexist and the heroine was weak. As for A Series of Unfortunate Events I agree that it was unreadable and dull. But it is very, very, listenable! I highly recommend the taped series which we listened to on many a long car trip. When you listen it is quite witty and you can see some actual development from book to book. We made it all the way to the end and found that the conclusion was, truly, a conclusion based on growing knowledge on the part of the children about the world, their parents, heroism, etc… When I tried reading the books to my children I found them stuffy and dull but the reader (who was wonderful) and the freedom to let your mind roam while listening really liberated the books for me. One by one they seem quite identical and dull but as a series they actually have something to say that is distinct from book to book. Try getting them out of the library and listening to them on trips.aimai

  • aimai

    My oldest daughter wouldn’t read Twilight and felt, having been raised in a Buffy oriented household, that it was too sexist and the heroine was weak. As for A Series of Unfortunate Events I agree that it was unreadable and dull. But it is very, very, listenable! I highly recommend the taped series which we listened to on many a long car trip. When you listen it is quite witty and you can see some actual development from book to book. We made it all the way to the end and found that the conclusion was, truly, a conclusion based on growing knowledge on the part of the children about the world, their parents, heroism, etc… When I tried reading the books to my children I found them stuffy and dull but the reader (who was wonderful) and the freedom to let your mind roam while listening really liberated the books for me. One by one they seem quite identical and dull but as a series they actually have something to say that is distinct from book to book. Try getting them out of the library and listening to them on trips.aimai


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X