That’s the classic debate that comes up when Ron mentions parents who read the books they don’t want their children to read. I’m that kind of parent. I don’t consider it censorship, since I’m not campaigning for decisions in my home to become mandated policy in other homes. But plenty of folks have told me they are surprised that an author would be a “censor” for her own children.
So is it censorship or parenting when I don’t allow my son to read Diary of a Wimpy Kid until he’s in 5th grade? I first said no when we saw it at the school bookfair last fall. Said no again after each report of the many other 7-year-olds in his class who were reading it. Said no for a final time when sending teary boy back to the school library with a book that he’d checked out even though I’d already said no. I didn’t say “never.” But to a 7-year-old “in a few years” might as well be “never.”
We did read a few chapters together. When I asked why Ethan thought them funny, he pointed to the most surface level of slapstick. Everything else sailed over his head. Guess I could let him read the series now…then it’d be old hat by the time he’s mature enough to understand why some call the main character a “bad role model.” Would be a shame, though, for him to miss out on the true heart and humor of the books. A double shame really, because what other books wouldn’t we have time for that he’s in the sweet spot for now?
I “censored” Beverly Cleary in the same way. We held off on reading the Ramona books because my son doted on his baby sister and there was no need to plant the seed that little sisters can be annoying. Now that he’s 8 and she’s 4, they’ve reached that place in their own good time—and the Ramona books are perfect! I expect that’s what will happen with the Wimpy Kid series in a few years. And by then, there will be a whole new set of books for which I’m saying “no” or “not right now.”