Sat Feb 17th
To the local library to get out a good selection of children's books for a talk I am giving on the subject. What a depressing experience. The Library is brand-new, a bright pleasant building in an attractive style, easily accessible, lots of nice seats, carpeted, welcoming. Three children there - one rather listlessly on a computer game, and two playing while their parents browsed through mewspapers. No one was looking at the bookshelves, and I am not surprised. What a bleak collection of books - all nw, all bright paperbacks in plastic covers, and mostly all junk. I collected a big stack, chosen at random from different sections. There is a lot of fantasy sci-fi stuff, and vast quantities of pre-teen-girl-finds-romance, the latter with massive doses of parental adultery, some gentle doses of propagandist it's-ok-to-be-gay messages, and a good deal of promotion of the we-must-accept-mum's-new-boyfriend stuff with a preachy air, as if written by a social worker seeking a Modern Fiction Award.
Sample, from an author, said to be in her teens herself and "The UK's youngest new literary sensation": on weekend visit to her dad, our heroine finds he has a new girlfriend whom she doesn't like. She tries to cause trouble between fail but fails and meanwhile her own new boyfriend is becoming more important in her life and persuades her to accept the situation. As the story ends, dad's girlfriend is pregnant and our heroine and her chums are having a happy time swapping experiences of kissing eg 'How many times have you snogged Jason?'
I am not inventing this.
Meanwhile, over in the educational section, a large stack of books on Islam and a smaller one of Christianity. Glossy illustrated book, thick with quotes from Hans Kung and Matthew Fox (no, I'm not inventing this, either), big chapter on homosexuality and lesbianism:"Reflection - I am a gay Christian....The Church's teachings are, without doubt, hypocritical...." section on "feminist theology" and one on "liberation theology", nothing whatever putting the ordinary Christian teaching and message. Some critical material on the Catholic faith and teachings but nothing simply stating facts. This rubbish is published by "Heinemann Educational" and I suppose its's used as propaganda in schools.
Good grief, if this is the diet of modern children no wonder they look so bored and cross, and end up so narrow-minded and unhappy in their teens.