I love books, and I want to share that love of books with the kids that come to live with me in foster care. At night, once they are tucked into bed, I sit in the hallway and read to them. I like to choose children’s classic because I feel it’s unlikely they’ll hear them any other way.
I’ve read Beatrix Potter and Winnie the Pooh. Both have a lovely cadence to them, and the authors use the word ‘presently’ a lot. I ADORE the word ‘presently.’ I have no idea why.
So next I try Peter Pan. I was super excited to find Peter in Kensington Garden and Peter and Wendy free on Amazon. Yeah, except not. These are creepy ass books, with bullying, Peter threatening to hurt or kill other children, and fairies coming back from an orgy! AN ORGY!!!!!
I mean, sure I change the racial slurs, which I expect from books of that time period. I do leave in gay and queer because they mean happy and odd, but racial slurs and orgy, yeah not so much. I stopped reading it.
So then I try Alice in Wonderland. Was Lewis Carrol on opium? Or did he have some kind of brain damage? So creepy, I almost stopped reading it, but that one I did finish.
Currently I’m reading The Wizard of Oz, which is so much more violent than the movie! The Tin Woodman cuts off a cat’s head because he feels bad for the mouse it’s chasing. Um, okay, that’s a bit extra special, especially when the cat’s heads rolls across the ground.
OMG, just read the part where they kill 120 creatures the Wicked Witch sends at them!
Also in the book the Wizard wants Dorothy to KILL the Witch of the West. In the movie she just has to get the witches broom, but in the book the all-powerful wizard tells a little girl (in the movie she’s older) to murder a person—yes she’s a wicked witch but still—and then he will send her home.
What the hell was wrong with these authors??? Were these not supposed to be children’s stories? I am afraid to try any other supposed “children’s classics’.
Do you change words when you read older books out loud? Have any children’s books scarred you for life?
As far as I know about Lewis Carroll, he was not on drugs, although opium was common at the time. He began telling stories at a young age and kept doing it as an adult. He told the story of Alice to his friend’s daughter (Alice) and she persuaded him to write it down and turn it into a book. I think he just had an incredible imagination.
I sometimes censor books when I read aloud to children. It depends on the subject matter and the age of the kids.
I remember being freaked out by the original Little Mermaid when she got her legs and it felt like she was walking on knives. I’ve never quite gotten over that image!
Yes, I’ve avoided the original fairy tales, SO dark and creepy I can’t imagine they were actually intended for kids.
Little Black Sambo. Thankfully it has been rewritten without all the racism, but still there are some creepy parts.
I’ll have to check that book out, thanks Jill 🙂
Yeah, those old stories/fairy tales/songs… nothing innocent about them.I suspect that children were not coddled as much back in the day.Think about “Rock-a-bye Baby.” That bit about the cradle falling? Not so comforting.
A favorite book when my kids were little was “The Crows of Pear Blossom” by Alistair Crowley. It was written in the 1940s and is about a crow mother whose eggs keep getting eaten by a snake. Eventually, Mr. Crow and Mr. Owl “hatch a plan” (hee) to put clay eggs in the nest. The snake eats them and dies a horrible, painful death, strung up between branches in the tree. The last line is classic, although I’ll have to paraphrase as I don’t remember it exactly: “…Mrs. Crow successfully hatched out 17 batches of eggs and used him as a clothesline to hang the children’s diapers.”
My kids loved it. In fact, one of my daughters has the book and reads it to her children. I bet, though, that the story would be too violent to ever get published today.
OMG that’s great, one of my favorite stories as a child was The Little Match Girl, talk about dark!!! I’d forgotten all about that. Huummm maybe it is okay for the kids
A LOT of old fairy tales are like that. The older the fairy tale, the more likely. Don’t search the originals of Red Riding Hood or its ilk. It’s nasty stuff. Especially steer clear of any “Grimm” tales.
It’s actually an interesting study, the evolution of children’s literature, but it’s definitely not child-appropriate by our standards today. Then again, who says our standards are really better today?
True, it’s odd they see so much adult things out fo context, but then the books for kids are sometimes so dumbed down or PG that the kids can’t relate to them.
History Chicks has a nice podcast on Frank L. Baum who was apparently an absolute pied pipe of children who loved his stories. I think it was like telling your kids “I’m going to gobble you up” and chasing them around the house. The audience understood it was all in fun.
Maybe I’ll have to check out the podcast, thanks Vicky
i remember reading peter pan for the first time… shocking!
The “orgy” example isn’t what you think! http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/orgy gives the older meanings – an energetic party or religious ritual, possibly involving excessive drinking, but not sex. Books written before approximately the 1950s use ‘orgy’ to mean a lively party. It can be jarring the first few times you see it used that way, though!
I have learned something new! Thank you 🙂