When I was ten, I checked Julie of the Wolves out of my school library and I absolutely loved it until I got to the attempted rape scene, which was such a shock, I could hardly process it. I actually felt betrayed. My mother didn't believe in censoring our reading, and I certainly would have resented any attempt to restrict my reading, but that freedom led me to believe that any book I chose would be "safe." To this day, I can barely look at the cover of Julie of the Wolves, and, while I don't censor my children's reading, I never went out of my way to introduce them to Julie of the Wolves.
|This was the cover art of the copy at my school library|
Since starting to think about this, I've realized that ever since the Julie of the Wolves incident, I've avoided any book that I thought might upset me. I won't ever read Lord of the Flies, or A Clockwork Orange or The Lovely Bones, for example. (In college, just listening to a classmate's presentation about A Clockwork Orange upset me.) And yet, Lord of the Flies and Clockwork Orange were the very books that Seamus wanted to read last summer. I had to stand by my no-censorship principles, but I did warn Seamus that they might upset him. So he read them and was fine. (He liked A Clockwork Orange so much, we gave him a tee shirt with a screen print of the cover for Christmas.)
And then, browsing in a book shop for a Christmas present for Seamus, All the Pretty Horses caught my eye. So I bought it, and he loved it. Loved it so much, that he's been reading through all of McCarthy's novels. He hasn't gotten to Blood Meridian yet, but he did read The Road, which sounds GRIM. I'm not sure if I could handle reading The Road. It just goes to show, we all have a different level of tolerance for disturbing material.
Have you ever been traumatized by a book? Do you try to shelter your children from disturbing material or do you take a hands-off approach when your kids are choosing books?