The 5 Worst Books for Your Children will depress, confuse and mislead them, writes Bonnie Ramthun, a mother and author in PJ Lifestyle. Ramthun warns parents against The Island of the Blue Dolphins, which is very bleak, Monster, which includes a homosexual gang rape, The Red Pony (beloved horse dies gruesomely), and Phillip Pullman’s atheistic Dark Materials series. She concedes the books are well written, but thinks they’re not suitable for kids.
My daughter, an avid reader, disliked Blue Dolphins for the reasons Ramthun gives. I don’t she liked The Red Pony either.
I enjoyed the first book in Pullman’s series, The Golden Compass, which is suitable for intelligent children. (A great deal will go over their heads, but they won’t care.) The second book was much darker and potentially nightmare-inducing. The third book, dominated by Pullman’s atheist theology, was a hard slog.
“Nihilism and despair (is) packaged in such a charming way that children and their loving parents will laugh and enjoy and only wonder later why their stomachs feel queasy and strange,” she writes.
Orphaned siblings Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire have thrilling adventures. But, “at the end of each book Count Olaf, the villain, has successfully removed the children from a loving home, having killed the person the children have just learned to love, and has turned them back into orphans.”
Ramthun thinks kids identify with Count Olaf, rather than the Baudelaires, who survive, barely, in “abject misery.”
“No child looks at Violet and says: ‘Look how beneficial it is to study and be smart and invent things.’ No. The lesson is that no matter how smart you are, no matter how hard you work, the bad guys are always smarter, and will come out on top because evil pays.”
Do kids really root for Count Olaf? I have to think they cheer for the brave, resourceful Baudelaire siblings. But, after I’d read the first two books, I didn’t want to know what new rotten things were going to happen to Violet, Klaus and Sunny.