Last term, the girls' book club read 'Huckleberry Finn'. Arwen and Lucy were most unenthusiastic, to their father's disappointment. Every time I asked the girls to describe where they were up to in their listening ( BBC Audio, narrated by Patrick Fraley ) Arwen would sigh wearily, "They're on the raft...again..". Still, hard to believe it could rouse enough dislike to be one of the most banned books in America.
Such an extreme thing, to ban a book or the reading of it. A girl in my HSC class, whose father was a minister, was banned from studying Peter Shaffer's 'Equus', a play that brings nothing to mind other than Daniel Radcliffe and a horse. The part of my brain allocated to 'horse' is forever colonised and scarred by the reading aloud of a number of Saddle Club books to a pre-reading Arwen. Of 'Equus' there is little trace. I may as well have been like A, excluded from the class.
I like to think I've never banned the children from reading anything, but censorship can be subtle, can come in the guise of snobbery, and when it comes to books, snobbery is a Bad Idea. I once had visions of raising my children on an exclusive diet of Milne, followed by Shakespeare and then Plutarch. Like all visions, it suffered in translation to reality ( luckily for the kids, who might have died of boredom otherwise.)
Lucy learnt to read with Dr Suess, who was, at least, A Classic, but Arwen conceived a passion for the Rainbow Magic series - predictable, formulaic, perfect fodder for the new reader, full of ethereal beings with names like 'Honey the Sweet Fairy'. Our journey into eclecticism had begun, full of missteps and judgement on my part and voracious reading on the children's.
I know I'm getting better at not being a book snob. I hardly sniffed at all when Snowy, ready for a snuggle and a chapter or two on the sofa, brought me 'Jedi Apprentice:The Deadly Hunter'.
Maybe I'm desensitised after my struggle with 'Twilight'. Arwen wanted to read it last year, just to see what all the fuss was about. I wanted to say no. I said yes instead. When it came down to it, I valued her freedom to read more than my ideas about reading 'good' books or even 'suitable' books.
We both read all four of Meyer's novels. Now there's no mystery about them. Arwen worked out for herself that they are badly written, that they rely on ever more sensational plots to keep the reader hooked. She knows that dating a vampire is never a good idea and that Bella needs to put down her copy of 'Wuthering Heights' ( see, even the classics can be dangerous! ) and get a life, develop her skills - cooking school, maybe ?
So, no censorship in this house. What about yours ?