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Inappropriate reading books?

(16 Posts)
FlicketyB Tue 20-May-14 21:13:35

DGD, a rising 7 is a very good reader and up to Stage 11 in the Oxford Reading Scheme. She has just come back from school with a reading book she has chosen. It is on WW2 and the Holocaust.

Her parents and I were a bit surprised that this subject should be covered in a book in a reading scheme for 7 - 8 year olds, but when we read some of the content we were very worried. There was a very explicit description of the Holocaust, saying that Jews, the disabled and gays were killed by poison gas. Elsewhere it quoted an evacuated child saying that the woman they were billeted on 'bashed them about'. Generally the topics covered in the book seemed disjointed and without context.

Now we are not over-protective and if DGD, who loves history, asked us about the Holocaust or the Blitz or anything else we would answer her questions truthfully, but how we said things to her would be tailored for her and we would be watchful of her response, she is a thoughtful and sensitive child and we would not want to cause her distress.

Has anybody else come across a child as young as six being given this book to read. This is a reading book, not a history text book and WW2 has not been taught in her class. She knows about it from the Horrible Historys.

My concern about this book is more general. I can see that this book could be traumatic for a number of children in this country who have fled conflicts like those in Syria and parts of Africa and have seen atrocities, or whose families have been affected by them. If their English is good they could be reading this at the age of 7.

Granny1951 Tue 20-May-14 21:55:23

Doesn't sound good at all. I'd be talking to her teacher as the school might not be aware of the contents of the book. Seven year olds are too young IMHO to be reading about the Holocaust etc. time enough in the future for that.

JessM Tue 20-May-14 22:04:09

Some reading schemes have materials suitable for the interest level of older children who are behind in their reading... Teacher/librarian not being sufficiently vigilant obviously.

Aka Tue 20-May-14 22:05:25

Do you have the title and author of this book?

Mishap Tue 20-May-14 22:06:43

I agree - I would not want a 7 year old to be reading this.

Reading material for good readers is a problem. My 5 year old GS is 6 levels above the rest of his reception class and is sent off to choose books from a class several years above his age - but one of the books he brought home he found very scary. We vet what he reads at home quite carefully as he is totally capable of reading adult books.

I am disturbed by children being burdened with graphic war information and it is for this reason that I feel uncomfortable about marking remembrance day in primary schools, and the anniversary of WW1. Time enough to grasp the true extent of man's potential for inhumanity.

Dragonfly1 Tue 20-May-14 22:11:41

I'm surprised a child in - I'm assuming Year 2? - has been given this book to read. WWII is a Key Stage 2 topic, and although the book might be ability-appropriate, I'd query the content with her class teacher. I wouldn't have used this book with any of my Y2 classes. I tend to agree with your concerns and with Granny1951's post.

Dragonfly1 Tue 20-May-14 22:13:36

And other posts that I've crossed with.

Aka Tue 20-May-14 22:19:11

He could be Year 3. My GS is still 7 and at KS2.

But that doesn't nullify the discussion, it does sound a bit OTT. Even if he has chosen it himself it doesn't sound appropriate reading material. I asked for the title as I can ask a primary colleague about this book.

Nelliemoser Tue 20-May-14 22:58:29

As others have said I do not think this is suitable.

Just because a child can read fluently at a higher level than it's actual age, does not mean that the story content is suitable for the emotional age of the child.

It's very worrying and the school should be monitoring the content. Such very graphic descriptions of somthing like the holocaust is surely too distressing for a seven year old.

FlicketyB Tue 20-May-14 23:29:45

I am glad we are not alone in our concerns. DGD is in Year 2. She is one of the younger children in her year, most have had their seventh birthdays.

With some difficulty I have found that the book is part of a series called Oxford Reading Tree: Level 11:Treetops Non-Fiction. The book involved is called 'War Children'.

As I said DGD loves learning about history, thanks to the Horrible History and enjoys and seeks out books on subjects that interest her. I deduce from the web site that this series of books is aimed at encouraging boys to read and they usually prefer fact to fiction, the other books in the series are: Wall Soldier, A-Z of Survival, The Tower of London, Cutters and Crushers and Picture Dictionary of Ancient Egypt, most of which she has already read and enjoyed.

But as I said my concern spreads more widely to the effect this book could also have on other younger children whose family history, or even their own experiences, would make this book inappropriate - and a teacher may not know enough of child's family history to be aware of this.

I am surprised that a responsible educational publisher like the Oxford University Press could not see the problems and sensitivities of this subject and have chosen a different topic to make up this series of six books

JessM Wed 21-May-14 07:00:54

There's only a problem finding books for good readers if they are being shoehorned into a "reading scheme" When I was 6 I used to read Enid Blyton and The Bobbsey Twins, not reading schemes. A fluent reader does not need to have a compulsory reading scheme book!
I know graded readers have a place and good that they are not all boring Janet and John as many children like non-fiction readers.

Aka Wed 21-May-14 07:12:32

Apologies Flick was very tired last night and got the gender and age of your DGD wrong (missed the rising bit). I'll run the info past a primary colleague today and see what her reaction is to such a young child reading this. I personally think it's not 'age appropriate' and the class teacher ought to be more vigilant when competent, but young, readers are left to choose their own readers.

FlicketyB Wed 21-May-14 08:30:14

Aka, I wasn't bothered as it really doesn't matter. My concern is the subject of the book and the treatment of it and the age of the potential reader.

JessM I think you have put your finger on a problem. Provision is made to provide age-appropriate reading material for slow readers, but the same is not done for advanced readers. DGD is at least the third generation of rapid readers in our family. I can remember being bored stiff by having to work my way through the Beacon reading system at the same rate of as the rest of the class and DS also had problems with age-inappropriate school reading books that just bored him or dealt with subjects he didn't understand like trying to get a job, with talk of referees (work related).

Agus Wed 21-May-14 08:48:38

I don't think this book should be in Primary School at all. Enough time to learn about this subject in Secondary.

When DD1 and likewise GD1 exhausted the class supply of books I took them to charity shops/bookshops where they were happy to,spend pocket money on books of their choice.

annodomini Wed 21-May-14 09:28:37

By the time my GD2 was in Yr3, she was a'free reader', not restricted to the reading scheme. She was able to choose any books she fancied from the school library or bring her own. She is now 11 and has read books such as The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and The Book Thief that don't make concessions to youthful sensibilities. However, I don't think a book about the Holocaust has any place in a school reading scheme.

GadaboutGran Wed 21-May-14 11:02:35

Such books should only be used as part of a carefully monitored teaching programme. It's really important that the child's understanding & queries about what they read have a place to be aired. I also think they need to distinguish between Nazis & Germans now. I'm puzzling over what will happen with my GC when they begin to learn more about WW2 - with one lot half-German living in Munich & the other of Maltese extraction (with grandparents who really suffered at the hands of Nazis) if th elater get it in their minds from what they hear that all Germans do terrible things.