'Little Miss Trouble' is skating on thin ice in our household. In fact, she's about to consigned to the recycling bin. Why? Well, in a word, censorship. Pure and simple.
It goes without saying, there are many things that parents have to censor their kids from - violence, swearing, sex, and anything sung by Justin Beiber. But one thing I didn't count on was having to censor my three year old from some of her own books. My husband and I have come to realise that our 3 year old now understands in some depth the stories we read to her. And some stories simply do not send the right message, like 'Little Miss Trouble'. I'll give you the summary. Little Miss Trouble calls people names, like 'fatty' and 'Big nose'. Poor Mr Small gets punched. Twice.
Now, I could probably handle all of that if it were accompanied by some kind of messaging about the cruelty of name calling. And of punching. But no. How does the Little Miss get taught a lesson? Well, she gets tickled and bumped for 10 minutes, leaving her feeling very sorry for herself. I'm not sure what Roger Hargreaves was smoking when he wrote this one but it's just not right for little kids.
Mind you, Roger's not the only children's author who seems to be writing on a different planet. We have been given quite a few religious books, kids bibles kind of stories. One of them is called 'The Old Testament'. Interestingly, the three year old loves it. She might be the only child in the world who has ever said the words 'can you please read me The Old Testament?' But, I hate to say, it's just not appropriate. It's supposedly written for children but in the first few pages, there's death, destruction and wickedness. I don't think three year olds really need to know that kind of stuff. It's a hard sell, trying to make The Old Testament child friendly. But I don't think the authors have really tried that hard. Here's how 'Noah's Ark' begins.'In the Years after Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden, God saw that men and women had grown increasingly wicked.. so God decided to send a great flood and destroy all living things on the Earth.'Nice. Not.
There's no doubt, times have changed (specially since the bible was written) in relation to kids story telling. And they've changed pretty quickly. Even Beatrix Potter doesn't quite fit with modern sensibilites. There's a charming little incident in Peter Rabbit where Benjamin Bunny (Snr) kicks a cat, scratches off its fur, then takes out his son Benjamin and whips him with a stick. Oh dear. It's not exactly a sleepy bedtime story.
Maybe I'm a little too sensitive. Maybe all we need to do is explain that what happens in books is not what happens in realy life. The problem is this. At the moment, the biggest influences on my daughter's life are my husband and I. She listens like a hawk to what we say. And when we're saying words and reading stories that don't quite fit our values, I think it's a little confusing. So, it's goodbye to 'Little Miss Trouble' but 'Little Miss Fun', you can stay. We like you.
Cassie Hamer is a mother of two and a freelance writer with a background in TV journalism and PR. You can follow her blog at http://www.mumplusmore.blogspot.com
Have you had to censor a book? Share your views and experiences below. We would love to hear from you!