Sunday, October 9, 2011

Is Mincing Appropriate for Seven Year Olds ?

When I say I don't censor my children's reading, I'm not lying. What I do censor are the books I read aloud.

Like this bit in Farmer Boy - "They have driven out two teachers," he said. "Last year they hurt Jonas Lane so bad he died of it later."

And I won't be reading this bit from our new read-aloud, The Box of Delights.

"Done ?" the porter said. "Er, he was a bad one. He had a row with his father-in-law, and he got a big sharp knife and cut the poor man up, put him through the mincer and sold him to the dog's meat man."

Goes against all principles of non-bowdlerisation. But tell me, could you put a seven year old to bed with visions of murder and mincing in his head ?


  1. Yeah... I think skipping over that part is probably a good idea too. ;)

  2. A Waldorf teacher once told me that children don't visualize those kinds of scenes with blood and gore like we do (I'd been complaining about the story of the wolf that gets cut open and filled with rocks being read to my son at school).

    So, I don't know, I might read it to him in the day but not at night.

  3. Hi, I'm a relatively new subscriber, homeschooling boys ages 6 and 3.

    What do you think of omitting a "stupid" in a contemporary book, such as Ivy + Bean, where it is part of the way the kids talk, unless it's needed to understand the reply?

    I read that bit in Farmer Boy (to my older son), and we had a talk about it. It was fine, but your approach might be more age-appropriate. Understanding how mean those boys are is important to understanding the situation, but perhaps the text otherwise sufficiently establishes their cruelty.


  4. Hi Cherie,
    No, I wouldn't omit 'language' because it doesn't bother me at all...I guess it's all to do with your own child too, isn't it ? I know Snowy is a sensitive chap and likely to mull over images at night. I'm pretty sure I read the Farmer Boy bit aloud to my girls at roughly the same age without the concern.

    It's interesting, because his tolerance for gore is greater with animation - he says the style doesn't let him forget it is make believe - whereas with books he sometimes forgets it isn't real.

    Or could be I'm just a wimpy mum :)

    Anyway, thanks all for your thoughts :)

  5. i would Bowlderise mincing for sure.

    But I got a kid that can't read about dinosaurs before bedtime.