I remember when I couldn't wait for Sunburst, my oldest, to start reading. Einstein and I read to her pretty much from birth. We'd snuggle up in the bed with her and take turns reading aloud from the books on our bedside tables. Einstein would drone on reading the long, passages from The Magic Mountain, I would murmur the timeline of strange tales from Russka, and Sunburst would wobble her newborn little head around, mess her drawers, and drop off to sleep on our chests. It was our grand literacy-from-birth, plan, back in the days when we were a one-child family and had the time to languish in bed all day, and our needs were few. Ogle the baby, read, nurse, change diapers, and read some more...
We both come from a long line of readers, Einstein and I, and when Sunburst started making her first attempts at deciphering text we were giddy with enthusiasm. We couldn't wait to share with her all of our favorite literary adventures. We were excited, all of us, to see her world opening up page by page. At 7 1/2 years, she's now voraciously reading over 100 pages a day, completely captivated by the power of the written word. Reading changes everything. It's amazing...
Except when it isn't.
You see, I entirely forgot there was a downside to reading. Aside from the magazines headlines at the check-out counters (as if the pictures weren't risque enough...) Aside from the local war protestors with their faux-blood spattered signs proclaiming things like "Stop KILLING CHILDREN in Iraq..." Aside from the fact that I will have to start hiding my Christmas lists, even in cursive... I forgot that there are books out there that are just plain drivel. Books that suck.
Today Sunburst went to the library with Einstein and brought home some books that were just plain awful. Usually we're very commited to sifting through her library loot before we reach the check-out counter, but this time two books slipped through the cracks on a very busy Saturday afternoon. They came home with her and those books and I passed like ships in the night when I slipped out of the house to get some very needed "ME" time.
While I was out, she read them. Both.
They are so opposite of the lives we live, of the values we're trying so hard to instill in our children, that they made me sick. For one, they're "schooly" books, reeking of peer pressure and "fashion disasters," cliques, cheerleaders, and ridicule. But they also promote lying, materialism, and disobedience --as in, my parents said no, but I'm going to anyway. They're just absolute, over-the-top crap, hand-picked for her by the children's librarian.
I realize that I can't protect her forever. Slowly but surely she'll be exposed to the excrement that permeates our outside world... it's happening already. And though it pains me, I can't stop it. All I can hope for is to impede the flow.