Sunday, May 6, 2012

Do you censor when you read to your children?

Censoring seemed to be an unintentional theme of our evening last night. I found myself revisiting the issue more than once over the course of the evening. In general, I'm not a big fan of censoring. However, with my children, I feel they need to be exposed to content when they're developmentally ready to understand and discuss it and not before.

We wanted to have a movie night. First we tried Madagascar 2. I felt a large part of the humor was inappropriate for a 3 and 4 year old and stopped the movie about 20 minutes in. I just explained to them that mommy and daddy didn't know it, but this movie is actually for big kids - not little kids and so we were going to stop it and watch a different movie. We then watched Tinkerbell and the Lost Treasure which was quite sweet. We all enjoyed it and stayed up a bit past their usual bedtime to finish it.

Then, as part of bedtime we began reading the second Moongobble and Me book: The Weeping Werewolf. The children thoroughly enjoyed the first book in the series and so I requested the second from the library. Unfortunately, the very first chapter was called "Bullies" and involved a rather nasty bullying episode. In my opinion, my children are a little young for that content. They were unfamiliar with the term, and so I defined it before beginning the chapter by simply explaining that "bully" is a word for people who are being mean to others. I tried to read the first chapter to them and found myself modifying the language of the bullies to make it a little less intense. As the episode increased in intensity, I couldn't really even modify it and I ended up skipping the chapter altogether.

The second chapter picked up with the actual story where the first left off and we found ourselves back with the familiar characters and the plot line that we were all enjoying. I would still recommend the series to others, I'd just warn them about this first chapter and tell them to use their own judgement when reading the series to younger listeners. I was disappointed to have to skip the first chapter entirely, but I didn't feel the content was appropriate for my preschoolers. I do not at all regret skipping it, and yet I feel vaguely guilty about the censoring.

Have you ever had to censor parts of a book you were reading to your child?


  1. When I read Peter Rabbit to my class, I left out the part about Mr. Rabbit having been caught by Mr. MacGregor and baked into a pie. Not sure they would've picked up on what that really meant or not but I was too chicken to chance it.

    1. Now that you mention it, I have censored that exact same line in Peter Rabbit.


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