Saturday, February 17, 2007

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.


Archbishop Cranmer said...

It is not only that they are bored or cross, but they leave school knowing absolutely nothing of the deepest joys of the Christian faith, and nothing of its profoundly reformative orthodox teachings. Most young people today either admire Islam for its unswerving commitment to 'truth', or Buddhism because it lets them do exactly as they wish.

How many books with chapters on on 'Gay Muslims' do you see? How many books on the rancour and divisions within Sikhism? None. Children are taught that these faiths are united in integrity, while Christianiy is portrayed as divided, confused, and compromised. This is not education, it is manipulation. We are giving birth to a generation of children with no spiritual identity, and will doubtless reap the awful consequences in due course...

Frabjous Days said...

I completely agree on the depressing choice of books in libraries -- but the solution for the proactive parent is to buy good books oneself or to order good books and get the library to buy them -- as you mentioned previously. So all is not gloom and doom as our local library, at least, is unwittingly developing a Catholic section...

Mindi said...

Even from our Catholic School's Library can the children find all they might want about Harry Potter, but is the section on saints nice and fat? I am beginning to feel that I will have to write books for my three young boys myself. Where do I begin? They need things that appeal to their sense of adventure, fighting of good (and prevailing!) against evil, interesting characters with whom they can identify, camaraderie between characters ...a sort of world that would make them say, "I wish I could go there," and ALSO has clear cut catholic christian values, morals, teachings yet without being preachy. Yes, we've read The Chronicles of Narnia, and are a little young for LOTR. The shelves are WOEFULLY bare of reading material that catholic parents can be glad to let their children read. The Sci-Fi is so attractive to young boys and men, but also so full of underlying negative influences. Please answer, if there is more out there of which I am not aware!

Anonymous said...

I have found the same on this side of the pond. In every town I am assigned to the first thing I do is check out the local library. After accessing the damage I purchase various Catholic books, often from Ignatius Press, and donate them. Basically I stock the shelves myself. Even then though it is depressing how few children, or adults, actually read. For childrens books I suggest Bethlehem books in North Dakota. They print some wonderful ones.

Fr. Jim

Anonymous said...

Vile aren't they?

My local library isn't too bad & they will order single copies. Bethlehem books would be good for boys & girls. My children read them, & lives of the saints go down well..Family Publications have a large children's section..

I personally don't like the introduction of Buddhist tenets into many Catholic's kind of trendy for some religious orders nearby, along with the wonderful ( not) do you spell it?)

Friends of mine are at present staying in North Dakota with The Bethlehem Community. How cool is that?

God bless,


Anonymous said...

When I was a little boy I read my way through Erich von Daniken at the local library.
I realise now that his theories are a lot of rubbish, but learning that was a valuable lesson. I also learned a lot about South America and Ancient Egypt courtesy of this author. Remmber a child does not even know such basics as that there were a people called the Incas.

I don't think we want a library stuffed full of books we Catholics agree with. However your local branch does seem to have an unusually dreary selection of fare on offer.

Malcolm McLean

Anonymous said...

Children have an instinct for picking what they want to read and an inbuilt sense of what is rubbish and what is not, you'd be surprised. I remember when I was young knowing this instinctively, and I have to admit that it included a number of 'improving' classics which I came to appreciate in later life, or saw subsequently were not as good as they pretended to be. If books are real rubbish they gather dust. The rest are forgotten. But the reality is that these days fewer and fewer children are interested in books. IT engages them far more and in that quarter there is real danger.

Simon-Peter Vickers-Buckley said...

Similar...but not quite as bad here.

I've resorted to Stevens Book Store here in Raleigh for a lot of childrens books

you simply would not believe what schools and libraries are throwing out and a lot end up in Mr Stevens book shop. Suits me!

At the Wake County library book sale three months ago I picked up the entire works of Trollope, in cracking condition, for $20.00...nobody wants this stuff. I even managed to pick up 90% of Dickens for an further $30. I walked out of there with boxes and boxes of sad.

Children's books similar, no Kipling, but plenty of Harry Potter. I agree, I cannot believe what parents and teachers are foisting off on the wee ones.