13 Comments

“Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped." George Orwell, 1984

Expand full comment

What a relevant and important post. Allow me to quote here part of a CTV article from four years ago: “An Ontario school board has said that they now “regret” a 2019 educational program that saw books burned and used as fertilizer in the spirit of “reconciliation” — a program that was, in part, led by the co-chair of the Indigenous peoples' commission of the Liberal Party of Canada, who has recently been found not to hold status with Indigenous Services Canada despite claiming otherwise.

The school district, Conseil Scolaire Catholique (CSC) Providence, which operates as the french language school board for southwestern Ontario, originally described the ‘Giving Back To Mother Earth’ program as “a gesture of openness and reconciliation.” Books of quality are being removed, if not burned or slashed (as happened at my school) to create space for more computer screens or banal social justice graphic novels, and of course to avoid offence. James, for kids, the crown for most popular book goes to Holes or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Expand full comment
Sep 13, 2023·edited Sep 13, 2023

Good.

My pleasure after a day of CBC triggered folly and expletive at the continuing saga of mass hysteria realized in OUR country : "The Giving Tree" by Shel Silverstein 1964, Aesop's Fables, A Child's Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas, Harry Potter - "The Prisoner of Azkaban" (NB: The last book of

JK Rowling was used in "family court" to disparage my parenting for reading "scary books at bedtime to frighten the children.")

Bad.

Just heard the babbling brook of Chairman of the Peel District School Board try and talk in circles in obfuscation to David Cochrane's (Power & Politics} repeated queries. There seems no observable merit to be in that executive position, incapable of answering a basic question on "The Diary of Anne Frank" being pulled from school libraries. Complete incompetence without excuse nor reasonable equity claim.

The taxpayer buck stops at Stephen Lecce and so on.

Expand full comment

Bud Light found out that if you go Woke you go Broke and this school is well below impoverished. The mental ineptitude of anyone in this day and age that would even think of banning books astounds me. Isaac Asimov once correctly stated that, “any book worth banning is a book worth reading.” It's time this school brought some adults into the room.

“Banning books gives us silence when we need speech. It closes our ears when we need to listen. It makes us blind when we need sight.” ― Stephen Chbosky

Expand full comment

With three boys and reading to each of them every night we've gone through quite a few but my favs may be: Robert Munsch's Stephanie's Ponytail; Julia Donaldson's Snail and the Whale; Dr. Seuss's Sneeches, or Yurtle the Turtle; Sandra Boynton's Happy Hippo Angry Duck; Gene Zion's Harry the Dirty Dog. There are literally too many in our collection to name all the great ones.

One thing I feel I need to mention is that contemporary children's books aren't as good as the older ones. The subject matter is fine but the delivery is terrible. Kid's books used to be more about alliteration and the overall flow of the text. I assume it's because kids can learn the art of communication a lot faster and better than they can learn the content, which takes time and maturity to grapple with. Why have we lost that basic understanding of human development.

Expand full comment

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe; The Hobbit (and then, of course, LOTR). And when my son was maybe 4 or 5, we read (I did the reading) Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I skipped the chapters that were purely philosophy and we just enjoyed the road trip together. He read it again when he was in his late teens, early twenties.

Expand full comment

Perfect essay. I

I read at a young age and read Black Beauty, Huck Finn, Tom Sawyer, etc.. My mother took me to the Stratford Festival where I met people like Othello and Iago. I was once or twice inconsolable in the balcony when a character "died of a broken heart". Later, I read biographies of Louis Pasteur, Mendel, and Ann Frank. My mother took me to "Dr Zivago", "To Sir With Love", and "The Robe". I was utterly terrified by a book set post-apocalypolis!

While there are a few things in schools I disagree with, such as very graphic books supposedly in the interest of sex Ed., in general, I can think of a good number of books which should be available, and are not: A Pour of Rain, for example, Ruth of Boston.

I love your story of becoming so caught up in The McGregor that your son escaped into a place where his imagination created images. That's what it's all about. He's hooked for life now!

Expand full comment

Puss n' Boots, and other short stories like Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Cinderella, The Princess and the Pea, etc. My daughter enjoyed the Harry Potter series. The Roald Dahl books that were sold in a kit at Costco for an excellent price. That reminds me, in case a reader doesn't know, I'd like to write that it's good to go to Costco every now and then just to check out what classic children's books are being sold at a very good price. My son likes anything with Lego and scary animals.

Expand full comment

Although the purists might disagree that they are "books" (since they have so many pictures) I absolutely loved the Adventures of Tintin books by Herge. Those tales really can awaken the imagination of a child, while teaching valuable lessons about friendship, self-reliance, good vs. evil, etc. Beautiful artwork as well!

Expand full comment

Thank you for this discussion and for asking what we read. Since you’re Canadian, I’ll first mention Anne of Green Gables, which I enjoyed reading to both my daughters. As an American, though, I grew up reading Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books. My own mother reads the first one to me, and I read the whole series to my kids. I love them very much. Another American classic we read aloud was Little Women. We read plenty of British books, too, including Jane Eyre, The Secret Garden, A Little Princess, The Wind in the Willows, and quite a few Ronald Dahl books. Reading aloud with my girls was a real highlight of my years of raising them.

Expand full comment

Such a good piece, James. Thank-you.

As a child, my mother’s younger sister, Aunt Gayle, read to me every evening from Grimm’s Fairy Tales. I have that book to this day. Aesop’s Fables is a must read as well as is anything by Enid Blyton. And please don’t let kids miss Alice in Wonderland, Wind in the Willows and anything to do with Br’er Rabbit. And don’t forget Adams’ Watership Down when they get older. Charlotte’s Web, as well.

Expand full comment