Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Violence Overload

Or at least attempting to severely curtail my personal exposure to anything and everything violent, which obviously must include books.  On my original "Inspired..." blog*  I am writing about this quest to eliminate violence in my life, and will probably have some duplicate posts here when relevant to Juvenile/YA literature.

 Is it even possible to participate in and discuss childrens' books without violence (not that we get violent discussing books, but the books contain violence) -- even dear Wilbur is threatened with an axe, and death is certainly an integral part of much quality literature.  How much should we limit a student's exposure to violence, at home or in the classroom, especially if Goosebumps is all he/she will read?

I use the tags violence (51 books), war (12), and action/adventure (44) on this blog, and the "violence" covers a wide range, from battles and fist fights to implied danger.  I just wanted to mark the book in some way that would let me know there is something of a physical, harmful nature in the story.  Hunting is considered violence, as is bullying.  Even a heroic tale or a slapstick comedy may get labeled with the tag.

The world is violent.  Some students' lives are violent on a daily basis.  Pop culture is certainly violent, sometimes overwhelmingly so, which is why I am trying to recognize ways I can avoid as much violence as I can and find alternatives for my children and students, if at all possible.

As always, I welcome comments and suggestions.

*Violence is hard to get away from -- I was going to say "I have hijacked my other blog..."


Jim (Teacherninja) said...

Well there's violence and then there's violence. What about a story in which the violence, such as a school yard fight, is presented as a bad thing? That might be good to read and discuss w/students. Since conflict is in necessary in fiction, it would be hard to avoid all violence, but pointless and over-the-top violence can certainly be a problem.

Anonymous said...

Off the top of my head, I don't think it's possible to cut violence out completely without missing out on heaps and heaps of really amazing children's books. As you said, even poor Wilbur has the threat of death hanging over his head. I'm reading The Tale of Despereaux to my 5-year-old, and he's in plenty of peril as well. And imagine reaching adulthood without reading The Outsiders!

I'm happy to cut violent video games and a lot of movies and television, but I think there's a difference between blankly watching (or in the case of some videogames participating in) gratuitous violence and reading about violence in a context that teaches empathy or understanding or helps you understand the human condition.

Anyway, I guess I'd be hesitant to try cutting literature that contains violence, beyond steering kids towards things they're emotionally capable of handling/understanding. Just my two cents!

JK said...

for some reason, I cannot comment on my own blog