Half way through the first block.

I’m amazed at how quickly these first two weeks have flown past already, and have just had my first face-to-face tutorial, which has been a huge help in getting things straight in my mind, and has got me ready to do my first TMA (Tutor-marked Assignment).
I started off, not absolutely sure of which option to choose but, now that I’ve worked further into my Block 1 activities, I’ve definitely chosen option 2 to work on: this is about the development of the fairy tale, with Little Red Riding Hood as the main subject matter.

The course has surprised me somewhat, in that we are dealing more with the history, and ideologies, of children’s literature, rather than the books themselves. 
We are investigating how, and why, children’s literature developed, and how we, as adults, view the whole subject of childhood: how childhood has been perceived throughout history, and what is considered ‘suitable’ reading for children, depending on the social ideologies prevalent at the time a book is published.
In order to do this, we need to read the books that are listed for the course and, while some of them have delighted me, others have made me quite uncomfortable in their frankness, with Junk, by Melvin Burgess being one, and Coram Boy by Jamila Gavin, which moved me deeply in a different way,  another.
I guess that this is a positive thing in it’s way, as it makes me question why I reacted to each book as I did, and so I am delving deeper into the reasons that a book is published in the first place; whether it is deliberately written for the shock factor, or whether the author wishes to address certain problems or issues that we are having to deal with as a society.
What is perceived as a ‘good’ book for children is another topic we are looking at, and how the ideologies of different groups in society influence what becomes popular with both children, and their parents.

There is a real prevalence today for stories dealing with magic, witchcraft, vampires, and various subjects around these themes, and I can’t ever imagine my mother allowing me to read these books when I was a child, mainly because I had such a vivid imagination that they would have given me nightmares but, what is unsuitable for one generation, or for individuals, becomes the norm for another, and this is where personal ideologies fit in with the choices we make in our reading matter.

I, personally, saw no problem in my daughter enjoyed the Harry Potter and Northern Lights series when they first appeared, and saw her enjoyment as a way of encouraging her to read more but, as I had always taken them more as adventure stories with moral overtones, rather than dwelling on the subject matter of magic, wizards, and alternate universes, there was no conflict for me.
I admit that I still see no problems with reading, and enjoying, the books as, to me, they are something  I always see as a ‘ripping good yarn’ – stories that, for me, deal with the fight between good and evil, and how we cope with all the many grey shades in between. 

To some, the books would be seen as having to be avoided, especially as they deal with the subject of sorcery, but I guess that, when it comes down to it, each person must examine their own heart, and conscience, as to what they consider okay to read, and it is certainly not for me to say what is, or isn’t, the ‘right’ kind of books for children to read – I leave those decisions to the people that matter – the parents, and the children themselves.

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Filed under Childhood, Choices, Reading, Studying, Writing

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