Banned Books Week

“Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community –- librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types –- in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.”  – ALA website

Why not read a banned book this week? There are lots to choose from. Here’s a list of “Banned Books That Shaped America”. (I’m rereading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.)

And here’s an interesting article about some banned children’s books.

A…ppalling

Just a quick post from the road… saw this and just had to groan and then share it.

Ursula gets slimmed down.

Summer Reading – Don’t Stress About It

This kind of thing makes me crazy. I followed a tweet to this link, presumably giving reading lists and tips to keep kids reading through the summer. Something I could get behind, and share with my readers, I thought. So what heads the page but the following dire warning:

MOMS & DADS, your kid could fall TWO YEARS BEHIND IN SCHOOL this summer!

Aaaah! What the….? Is that kind of drama necessary to get people to read your book suggestions?!

(Which I might add, seem cobbled from lists of Newbery award-winners and classics, with the blog author’s own books slyly inserted amongst and in between.)

A study is cited, but something tells me that there’s also a study somewhere about how students can get back up to speed in the fall, and presumably remember where they were in their reading.

Living in a high pressure kind of city, I am all-too-used to crazy marketing like this. I get countless brochures in my mailbox for private schools, tutors, summer camps, all trying to instill fear in me that I’m not working my child hard enough over the summer. Why should children get to take it easy and stop thinking for two whole months??

Umm, because it’s summer?!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for summer reading, and will do my best to encourage it. What I won’t do is set a goal of x number of books for the summer, and establish a daily quota of pages to read to get to that goal, as this site recommends. A perfect way to suck the joy out of an activity!

(And I’m not doing it to myself, either. No “you must read these books before you die” or motivational reading lists for me.)

Summer is a time for unregulated thinking, extracurricular daydreaming, and blessed downtime. Keep books handy, sure, wander into the library from time to time, and be a role model (carve out quiet reading time for yourself), but don’t stress out or they will too. As in don’t be a bummer. Chill.

Keeping it Simple with Toddlers!

The next time you are tempted by expensive toys for toddlers (especially those posh developmental toys!), here’s an excellent reminder of the beauty of simple pleasures:

“Remember these 4 words and you’ll always have Things to Do with a Toddler”

Keep it simple!

TV Ads Are Bad: “More TV Means More Junk Food”

From the Hospital for Sick Children’s website, “More TV Means More Junk Food”.

Even if you don’t believe in the pervasive influence of advertising on our thought processes, you can’t deny that if your child doesn’t even know that a particular product exists… he/she won’t pester you for it!

p.s. Another vital factor in the equation is the influence of parental example – I sure wish I was a better model of healthy eating! (Oh Cheezies, how I adore you…)

Unstructured Play Time! Go for it!

It looks like all I’ve got time for these days is passing on links… Oh well…

Here’s another good one though, “The Genius of Unstructured Summer Time” on the New York Times site.  One of the things that irks me most about modern parenting trends is the need for constant curriculum – not just during school hours, but now bleeding into all available free time, early mornings, evenings, weekends, holidays, summer time… (As well as into the very early years of toddlerhood and infancy: witness expanding kindergarten hours, full-curriculum daycares, computer lapware for babies!)

What would unprogrammed time look like? Is it so bad that they might get a little bored? Learning how to entertain themselves might be one of the most useful skills they can develop.

We spend so much time trying to instill the love of reading in our children, but when the heck are they supposed to read for enjoyment when we keep them hopping every hour of the week?

The space and time to just think… that is where true creativity can spring forth. Dare we let them follow their hearts, in their own time and in whatever direction it leads them?

Yertle the Turtle too political for BC school

Well this just depresses me.

Yertle the Turtle quote banned from B.C. school.  (c/o Huffington Post)

Think about the rather limiting definition of “political” here. It would seem to preclude any lessons about interpersonal power relationships, equal rights, humanitarianism, civics, ethics… Yeah, all bad stuff. The Golden Rule should probably get pitched as well.

Besides, what exactly is controversial about the quote? Is it or is it not true that those on the bottom (of socio-economic or any other kind of scale) have the same rights as those at the top?

And muzzling teachers. Always good for a school system. Bravo.

(The only thing to like about this story is how relevant Dr. Seuss still is.)

More on Gadgetry…

Further to my last post about the iPhone, here’s an interesting article from Commonsense Media: “My Kids’ First iPad”. It’s written from the point of view of parents who are “early adopters” of media, and you can follow links to lots of app recommendations, etc.

I do see one good comment below the article though, about the speed with which content is presented, which concerns me as well. The commenter advises computers be used alongside traditional reading material, which encourages kids to slow down and develop longer attention spans.

In general, Commonsensemedia.org is a great resource for all tech subjects in relation to raising kids – if you have teenagers for example, and are concerned about social media and privacy, or cyberbullying, or appropriate content controls, they are always posting advice and information on those topics.

The Lorax Wants You to Test Drive a Mazda

I had no high hopes for the movie version of Dr. Seuss’s Lorax, I had a feeling it would be a depressing dud and paid no real attention to the hoopla surrounding its release… Until I saw this on the internet: Stephen Colbert takes on the Lorax’s commercial tie-ins in this great rant from his show.

It’s just so bizarre I couldn’t believe it was true – I actually went online this morning to double-check that the Mazda/Lorax ad was real and not a spoof. Oh, I am so naïve to the bizarre ways of the world! Yes, of course the ad is real, not to mention surreal. The Lorax marketing team, spectacularly blind to the irony of it all, has indeed signed up 70 product tie-ins for the movie, most noteworthy among them an SUV. The little orange fellow who railed against Over-Consumption and Rampant Resource Extraction is suddenly blissed out over the fuel efficiency of the Mazda CX-5. The press releases trumpeted the fact that the commercial tie-ins were for eco-friendly products and green companies, though how far that goes I’m not sure.

Impostor! He doesn't even look like me!

This Mother Jones article by Kate Sheppard speaks to the concerns that many have with the Lorax marketing campaign.

And here’s a good Atlantic Monthly article by Jordan Weissmann about what the heck a ‘hybrid crossover SUV’ even is.  (Check out the embedded Mazda Lorax TV ad if you haven’t seen it.) The author also makes a good point about how testy we get when someone messes with our classic childhood heroes.

The whole situation, however, didn’t actually make me feel ill until I read this report from the Washington Post about Mazda taking its ad campaign right into schools. Using the desperation of underfunded schools as a crowbar to get their advertising message into the classroom is bad enough, but using Seuss-loving youngsters as shills for the automotive industry? We’ll give you money for books if you get your mommy and daddy to test drive a Mazda??

Oorg. Bad on so many levels.

Right at the end of the Mazda ad the Lorax prompts the narrator to plug his movie. Between the lines reading: “I flogged your car, now tell people to go to my movie!” I’ll scratch your back if you’ll scratch mine. Deee-pressing, not the least because an entire marketing team did not foresee any of this backfiring on them. Has the world gone mad?

POSTSCRIPT: The movie is in theatres today and I have no idea about its worth. Here’s a scathing review.

Here’s the Commonsense Media review – they rate this film suitable for age 5 and up.

POSTPOSTSCRIPT:

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss, and my Deepest Sympathy.

Okay, this sounds like a real nightmare…

Before a screening of “Puss in Boots” in the UK, the trailers for two horror films were shown by accident. (from the Huffington Post)

Another reason to save the big movie theatre experience until they’re older! (Other reasons include cost, loudness and tiny bladders.)

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All writings posted here are © Kim Thompson, unless otherwise indicated. For all artwork on this site, copyright is retained by the artist.