How Much Do You Shelter Your Children from Books and TV?

Updated on September 29, 2012
T.M. asks from Tampa, FL
44 answers

I was recently in a conversation with some Moms from my son's school. Our district has paid for a online book service where kids can go and read books online. There is a pretty extensive library and I think it is an amazing tool. My kids love it. One Mom made a comment about the service and said that she was horrified because her son found a book on there about zombies. I have not seen the book, but I am guessing that it is probably a tongue-in-cheek humorous type thing...not violent or obscene. I made the comment that I really don't censor my kids all that much...I am thrilled when they want to read. I also mentioned that I couldn't wait until my kids were old enough to read the Harry Potter books. This same Mom made a statement that those books were not allowed in her house because they encouraged kids to learn witchcraft. She said that if Harry Potter was EVER on one of her kid's class reading list, she intends to tell the teacher that her kids will not be reading it.

I would like to believe that I am capable of teaching my kids the difference between fiction and reality. I wouldn't allow my kids to watch The Hangover movie, but I also wouldn't go into meltdown mode if they happened to see a show in which someone said Hell or Damn. I believe that it is not realistic to think that I can prevent all exposures to everything that I do not agree with.... My kids are around other kids all of the time and I am sure that the families of those kids may have different beliefs than we do...Not necessarily wrong, just different.

I think that books like the Harry Potter series encourage reading, which is an amazing thing for kids. I also think that these books do have some really good life themes embedded. I would rather my kids read/see something in a setting and then be able to ask me questions about it when they don't understand things.

I was just a little shocked at the other Mom's indignance about these types of books. I am comfortable with my approach to this, but I am wondering if maybe I am a bit more lenient than other parents about this sort of thing. What is your opinion?

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

So What Happened?

I'm loving the answers coming in. It seems that I am not as extreme as that Mom made me think. What I thought was funny was that this same Mom had NO problems with the Lord of the Rings books, which I would counter has just as much good vs evit and witchcraft as Harry Potter. I am not sure what the real difference is and I have read both...other than one is a older classic and the other a modern classic.

Featured Answers


answers from Dallas on

Well, I teach AP English. My kids read EVERYTHING. :)

I do have parents from time to time who don't want their children (17 year olds) to read The Crucible because of witchcraft. They also have a problem with Huck Finn because of language, and complain about other books from time to time, as well.

Jen C. - My 8yo is reading Harry Potter, too. :)

14 moms found this helpful


answers from Eugene on

I tried sheltering my children when they were little and it didn't work. Unless you plan to shelter them for the rest of their lives, they will be exposed to lots of good and bad influences and at some point, they will have to choose for themselves what to allow into their lives. My goal is to protect them from evil and truly inappropriate stuff when they are young, but help them to discern and gain the skills to protect themselves and make good choices as they get older.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Grand Forks on

I don't censor what my kids read at all. I was never censored as a child. My parents let me get an "adult" library card when I was seven. Ignorance is not bliss.

8 moms found this helpful

More Answers


answers from Dallas on

If a parent absolutely refuses to expose their children to anything other than their own beliefs, then it seems to me that they aren't very secure in those beliefs.

We are a conservative Christian family, but I wouldn't be opposed to my daughter reading about zombies or Harry Potter. I trust my children are capable of knowing the difference between reality & fantasy, and I trust that my family's value system is strong enough to withstand outside influences.

Parents who don't expose their kids to anything are doing them a HUGE, solid, disservice.

13 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

She's the kind of mom I stay away from. You are absolutely ok and she is the odd one so don't worry. Any mother who would deny her child the most amazing childhood series EVER written is crazy-sorry. I bet that this series is responsible for more children finding their love for reading than all other children's book combined. I suggest you read them along with your has been a singular joy in my life to read this series with my son, discuss, and then watch the movies. I bet this woman hasn't even read the series because if she did she would realize that the "witchcraft" is obvioulsy pretend.

You are going to find many uptight moms out there-whether it be about this kind of thing, food,religion or whatever. Just be cordial but keep your distance. There will be many cool moms too who think the way you do.

12 moms found this helpful


answers from Erie on

I could only hope that the Harry Potter books taught witchcraft. How cool would that be? I can think of a few people I'd like to throw an invisibility cloak over.

Humor aside, I don't censor books at ALL. Neither did my mother, and here I am a married mother of 4 (all with the same guy!), a BA in Philosophy and a small business owner to boot. Yeah, my life turned out AWFUL, Robin M.! Thank goodness you weren't my mother.

12 moms found this helpful


answers from Baton Rouge on

I didn't censor.
If she was reading or watching something she didn't understand, she knew she could ask me about it and get an honest explanation.
If something disturbed or frightened her, we changed the channel or even left the theater. Yes, I bought some tickets for movies I only got to see the first part of, but that was okay.
Most of the time, she was fine.
I took her to see Jurassic Park when she was a toddler. My ex was against me doing so - said that the scene where the lawyer gets eaten by the T rex would scar her for life. She patted his arm and told him, "Don't be scared. All the real dinosaurs are dead. The ones in the movie are just computer pictures."

As for Harry Potter turning Christian kids to Wicca, anyone who seriously studies Wicca will soon learn that the witchcraft in Harry Potter is nothing like real witchcraft. And if you pay attention to the Harry Potter stories, magic isn't what saves the day in them. It's friendship, loyalty, clear thinking, and love that bring the win.

11 moms found this helpful


answers from Missoula on

I would be thrilled with an online library like you described. What an awesome tool!

I can't wait to read Harry Potter with my boys. My oldest is too young now, but hopefully soon. :-)
I realize there things in the world that my son will see/hear/read that I don't like or agree with, but I view those times as opportunities to discuss the issues with my kids. I don't do censoring, but I do try to make sure what they see and hear at home is age-appropriate.

Your approach seems very reasonable to me.

10 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I'm with you. The ultra-conservative, live-in-a-bubble approach doesn't work for me.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

My son is 8 and really enjoys reading. I am always finding something he will read. He loves the Percy Jackson books, which I enjoy as well and so we enjoy them together. I'm sure Harry Potter will be the next series we read. It really bugs me when people are so closed minded to think Harry Potter promotes witchcraft. It's up to parents to teach children about make believe. Oh and it's funny you should mention zombies because my kids (8 & 5) were dragging their feet around the other day pretending to be zombies. Both of course know it's not real. I say keep encouraging kids. As long as the books are age appropriate then what's the big deal.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

I dont believe in hiding the world from my kids, I talk them through it. On a side note, I am reading Harry potter to my kids right now, aged 7 and 8, and they love it!

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Charlotte on

I haven't read any of the other posts yet, but T., I'll tell you that I've met people like that. They are closed-minded and small-minded people. (And I don't care if I offend someone by saying that, btw.) Those SAME people will tell you how wonderful CS Lewis' series with The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe is because CS Lewis told everyone it's an allegory with the Lion being Christ. So THAT is okay.

Never mind that Voldemort is Satan and Dumbledore is God and Harry Potter is Christ in the good versus evil universe, and the mudbloods are the pawns of the evil side, while the future of all muggles hangs in the balance.

It took years for the story to unfold, and on the way to the ending, these conservative fanatics crapped all over the story, saying the kind of stuff this woman you are talking about did. Yet she has let her child watch all the Disney movies, including Fantasia where Mickey turns the mops into workers so he doesn't have to scrub the floors. She has probably let her kids think Santa comes down the chimney, at least for a little while, and lets her kids go trick-or-treating.

She's a hypocrit and doesn't even know it (or care). These people are ALL like that.

If kids actually believed in witchcraft after reading Harry Potter, we'd have an epidemic of it all over the world. JK Rowling is a multi-millionaire after all the books have sold and from the movie rights, and nope, no epidemic.

There's no explaining to people like her, T.. They love their holier-than-thou approach to life. It makes them feel superior to you.

As to your question? No, I didn't censor my kids' books. I hated the Goosebump books, but if I had said they couldn't read them, it would have been forbidden fruit and they'd wanted to read every one they could get their hands on. As it was, they lost interest after the first two.


8 moms found this helpful


answers from Salinas on

We don't censor books at all. Often I have read the book they are reading myself so we talk about it and I tend to think if they are mature enough to read it and comprehend it they're ready for the content.

We don't watch much TV and if we do it's together as a family. As for movies swearing doesn't bother me if it's appropriate to the story. Extreme violence and casual sex movies are a no go and honestly my almost 14 year old has no interest in that stuff. I think by NOT sheltering her in most ways she has more mature taste. Since we've been pretty relaxed with most media, seeing the latest teen sex flick doesn't interest her.

I really think the sheltering thing can backfire as they grow up. The more kids know about the real world they less they seem to get sucked into the pop culture crud that seems to dominate American culture.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I do not understand parents like the Mom you are talking about.

I do not shelter my kids from much, just the no 'Saw' movies until they are old enough and stuff like that. You know, common sense stuff.

I absolutely do NOT shelter them when it comes to reading...I refuse to believe that outside influences (like books and movies) will have more of an impact on their morals and values than my husband and I and our respective families will. Period. End of story.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Pensacola on

I have run into this attitude many, many times and it never fails to irritate me.

I follow the same school of thought as you do. My daughter is dyslexic and I am so delighted that she loves to read that I put very few limitations on her reading choices. I look at what she is reading but unless it's something that is vulgar or obscene, I do not stop her. We discuss what she reads on a regular basis and these discussions have a tendency to turn into lively debates on various aspects of what she's read.

We both adore fantasy and I have never been concerned that she's going to suddenly believe that she is a unicorn or an elf because she knows the difference between real life and fantasy. Furthermore, she and I were standing in line to purchase the Harry Potter Books at midnight and oddly enough, after reading those books, neither of us had the inclination to run right out and learn to be a witch. (although we did buy wands at Universal Studios as a joke and quite enjoyed ourselves laughing and playing)

So stand strong and don't back down. What you are doing for your child/children is invaluable. You are teaching them that there is a world outside of their backyard and to embrace it and enjoy it. It is a tragedy to watch as children's creativity and capacity for accepting and embracing differences are ended before they even have a chance to begin. Good luck.
I am incredibly jealous about the marvelous tool that your children have access to. That sounds like a dream!

8 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I don't shelter my son from books at all. To me, that would be absurd -- like sheltering him from a good night's sleep and green vegetables. I regard the Harry Potter books as modern classics, and I am thrilled and overjoyed that my son is reading them.

TV is a completely different story. We are not a "no TV" household, but we do strictly limit it. My son gets "movie night" once a week, and then he's allowed about 2 hours of whatever "screen time" he wants -- TV, video games if not too violent, whatever. The result is that I've got a 6-year-old who reads at a 4th-grade level, and he reads every chance he gets. People stop us in the street, in restaurants, etc., all the time to ask me how old my son is and how he learned to read like that. So, I know this method isn't for everyone, but I stand by the results.

For me, though, none of this is based on concerns about content (though if my son watched more TV, I probably would have content-based concerns). It's about the neurodevelopmental effects that TV/visual media have on a child's ability to process information, emotions, etc. It sounds like this mom you met had strong religious beliefs that I personally don't share. I mean, I have a religion; I just don't have HER religion.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

My son was reading Harry Potter in the 3rd grade.
He loves sci fi and fantasy.
I don't care for adult theme tv/movies myself (nudity, cursing, sex, etc), so we don't watch that stuff.
There's such a thing as being age appropriate - I get that.
But I'm not worried about my son practicing witchcraft.
We've got the original Bewitched series on DVD - it's a fun show!
We know the difference between reality and make believe.
If I shelter him from anything it's from some of the uber religious attitudes out there.
I'm not sure THEY know the difference between reality and make believe.
Maybe that's why Santa and Harry Potter sets some of them off.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I'm also pretty lenient. More importantly, my daughter (12 / 7th grade) and I have a pretty good dialouge about what she is reading, so she will tell me about the books she is reading (if I haven't read them) and will tell me if she thinks the character is making a mistake or what they did that was good.

We watch TV TOGETHER so pretty much anything she sees I see and so we can discuss what is going on.... believe me we had some FANTASTIC conversations about healthy relationships while watching Twighlight / Glee etc. Conversations we NEVER would have naturally had without that content... but that really enabled her to THINK about how people work.

I think it's unfortunate when mom's censor and/or don't use any available avenue to encourage dialogue with their kids. I've never been one to hide things that I don't believe in..... I think that is just going to cause her to run right straight in that direction. So, we talk about it and I ask her what she thinks. But lots of parents don't want their kids to think for themselves, so they have to hide everything that is different than what they believe in.... which means they actually leave their kids unable to critically think.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

My kids have no interest in Harry Potter much to my dismay!

However, I am in the less censorship category. Yes there are things we censor...and it's a case by case basis. We go with our guts not what someone else tells us is appropriate for our kids.

When they have questions we answer them. It may be lenient but my kids know that they can ask me anything. Some of friends when growing up said "you talked to your mom about that stuff? That's weird"...Yea but they were all experimenting when I wasn' we do the same as my parents (or I should say I, with a lot of coaxing from me to my husband, he was a bit sheltered). Now is fully on board.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Lancaster on

My kids are still pretty young, but as as far as books go, they can and will be allowed to read pretty much anything. I think visual media is a whole other thing. They are not currently allowed to watch any tv mostly because I hate advertising/commercialism. As they get older they will be allowed to watch some stuff, but I'll always monitor it pretty strictly.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Milwaukee on

Yeah I don't really shelter that much. They can go pick out books that they want, even if they are zombie books, but I don't really let them go into Spencer gifts LOL

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I intentionally expose my girls to as much of the world as I think they can handle at their stages in life. My now 16 year old daughter knew what a drag queen was when she was 6 because we had a friend who invited us to one of his shows at a gay pride fair at a park. She lost several friends whose parents did not approve of her telling her friends about the music and dancing and how he took his wig off at the end of his performance. I also sent her to many different churches with her friends so she could learn first hand about different religions and be tolerant of others who may not share her beliefs. She learned how to read by playing "The Legend of Zelda" because books were not interesting to her. Her first grade teacher hated that. Today she has clear career goals and a determination not seen in many teenagers to accomplish those goals. But your question is about books/tv, and no, I do not shelter my kids. I will not let my two year old watch horror flicks, but I do let her watch "Monsters Inc" which is about abduction and reaching out for help. She prefers to watch regular Disney shows like "Shake It Up" and "Jessie" over plain cartoons and that's okay by me. Besides, how can you learn about what your kids actually enjoy if you shelter them from all the options?

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Indianapolis on

Harry Potter is amazing! The first 2 or 3 books are low-key. Miss Rowling intended for her audience to grow up reading them, so the books themselves mature as the series continues. If you ask me, that woman is a genius!! :)

I'm a huge fan of fantasy novels. I believe they encourage imagination as well as a great love for reading. My children are still very young. I read them this book about a monster that eats all the garbage. And the monster eating too much gets the town to recycle. It's the cutest way to teach little kids the idea of environmental protection.

In my opinion, the world is full of 'objectionable' things. And sheltering your children from every little thing will only stir their curiousity and allow more room for rebellion later on.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I really don't censor their reading much, if at all. A friend of mine is a master teacher (she teaches other teachers how to teach, and has a doctorate in education). When I told her that I wasn't sure if I should let my daughter (then 8) read Harry Potter 6 because of some of the more mature thematic elements (betrayal, death of a mentor, etc), she made a really great point that stuck with me. She said that kids, when they read books, can really only draw on their own life experiences to "fill in the blanks." A child who has been raised in a loving, happy, and supportive home will feel sadness at Dumbledore being killed by Snape, but unless they've personally experienced the death of a loved one, or massive betrayal, they will not have the same feelings we adults would about that scene (assuming that by the time we're adults, we have some personal experience with those subjects).

So, I went ahead and let my daughter read Harry Potter 6 (and 7). She did great. She fully understood the events of the books, however she wasn't devastated by any of it. In fact, when I read the books, I felt downright depressed when Snape killed Dumbledore, and frankly, I was totally pissed off at JK Rowling! My daughter seemed to feel none of those things, which just goes to my master teacher friend's assertion that kids don't have the depth of experience that we do when they read these things. They will get something different from it than we do.

All that said, I do censor their TV viewing quite a bit. TV supplies images, sometimes graphic, that reading simply doesn't. I don't mind language so much (we own a construction company, so they've heard everything there is to hear on job sites LOL). I just don't think they need to see anything gory or overtly sexual at this age.

Lastly, it totally cracks me up when people won't read Harry Potter because they think it encourages witchcraft. Ummm... it's FICTION! Fantasy has been a prevalent theme in literature since the written word came into existence. (The Iliad and The Odyssey, anyone?)

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

T., we censor. My son is only 7 and he doesn't need to read anything with teenage or adult themes just yet. I don't feel he is deprived because there are soooooooo many books out there that he can read that don't contain graphic images or offering frightening thoughts. He has already read all of the Boxcar Children series, A-Z books, Wimpy Kid series, Ricky Ricotta series, he's working his way through the Magic Tree house books and he is just starting the Percy Jackson series, and we are reading all of the Lord of the Rings to him. Not to mention that he read 25 books a week this past summer.

What I won't allow him to read are the Captain Underpants series, and the like. I don't approve of the back talking and potty humor in those books and at 7, my kid has better reading options than those books.

But I'm not going to throw a hissy fit if books like Harry Potter are introduced into the classroom. We don't practice witchcraft but I'd be a very ignorant mom if I said it doesn't exist and there are no such things as wizards and witches, ghosts and goblins. Whatever my son is exposed to, we talk about it and explain to him why we approve/don't approve or agree with the story.

Movies are different. My husband has watched many many many PG13 movies with him, which is a sore spot for me. But then, if it were up to me, my kid would still be watching Barney.

Great question btw!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I'm with you. Pretty much the same philosophy. I really only shield my kids from stuff that would totally upset them and give them nightmares, or have a serious bad influence on their behavior ( and honestly, those sassy teens on the Disney shows are probably worse than anything else out there)

To each his own though... I guess. I was never told I couldn't read or watch something growing up. I'm sure my parents weren't screening 9 1/2 weeks in front of me or anything, I just was never really excluded from anything. No worse for the wear. And I consider myself a very logical, thoughtful intelligent and tolerant person.

I was a 3rd child with 2 older sisters and I remember reading Judy Blumes summer after 1st grade (are you there god...) and seventeen magazine at age 9.... oh and by the way I didn't so much as kiss anyone till I was 18... Also watched the Simpsons ans Married with Children growing up and never disrespected my parents a la Bart Simpson or Kelly Bundy. Sometimes I think we don't give our kids enough credit! The number one source kids look to for guidance on how to act always has been and always will be, their parents themselves.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

Although I censor TV shows, I let my kids read pretty much what ever they want. I also take them to the theatre so they have definetely seen adult theme productions. (I admit that I was cringing frequently when we saw Miss Saigon last summer:).
(My oldest read Harry Potter when she was in 2nd grade)

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I think every parent has to make choices that uphold the principles of their 'family culture', as it were.

I believe in books. Really. I love and adore them and I'm not above reading some junk food sometimes, just for fun. I hope my son will grow to enjoy reading books of truth and substance, and I know he'll go through phases of reading junk food books. That said, I've also laid a great foundation for the love of good books by having carefully chosen a lot of the stuff from the library. (He always gets to choose books he wants, by the way.. and 99% of them are about dinosaurs.)

When it comes to tv, we're more cautious. In order to avoid the blasts of advertising aimed at little people, we usually go with dvds or a couple PBS shows (and yes, I know there's ads on those). He's a pretty timid kid, as far as movies go. There's a lot of stuff that just gets him scared, so we stick with stuff in his comfort zone; he's never asked for a dvd we felt we needed to say 'no' to. Instead, we've found lots of things to watch together as a family that are interesting to us.

I think we'll introduce more sophisticated content as he matures enough to be able to discuss what we're watching. Previewing helps a lot, and moderation in anything (esp. tv) is good. I'll be happy to sit down and watch an old kung-fu movie with you, but don't expect me to rent one of those hardcore dismemberment movies. Extreme sex or violence isn't really my bag anyway. I prefer to watch smarter movies than that.;)

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Sarasota on

I think this lady is over the top. The Harry Potter series are amazing books with the best teaching lessons. And my daughter is 4 (almost 5) and already knows what a zombie is not that she has seen any scary movies or shows with them in them. Although it is our job to set limits for things that are appropriate for each child. We have actually allowed her to watch the Harry Potter movies, she loved them. We had in depth conversations about each movie and the story lines. It was actually really fun to see how she thought and reacted to each movie. One thing she asked was why the Chamber of Secrets was called Secrets and not Secret. She had a point. I don't think every kid should watch it at such a young age, but if we protect them from everything in life when they grow up they will be scared and not know how to deal.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Appleton on

That mom is a control freak who seems to be a bit doubtful of her own parenting ability. It sounds like she is parroting what she has heard either from her own parents, church or both. She wants to keep her world small and is isolating her children from the real world. Unfortunately when we do that as parents we do not give our children the tools they need as an adult. When her kids get out into the world they will have no ammunition to deal with cults, con artists and such.

While I believe it is wrong to subject kids to nudity and strong sexual themes, I believe you do need to expose kids to the fact that sex is normal and okay for adults. But exposing them to ideals that you disagree with is a good idea so you can talk to them about it and explain why you feel the way you do.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

I agree with you. My kids are still little and their book choices are still Biscuit and Richard Scarry, but I don't plan on censoring books from my kids even when they are older. TV is a little different story, but it's a case by case scenario really, at least for now.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

My perspective is that NOTHING should be banned. Filtered by age and maturity, yes; banned, NO!

The HP series is geared to young adults (teen to early 20s) so if your pre-teen or younger child is reading it, yay for them, but I believe the parent should be holding regular book review sessions with the child. I read the books to my child (she wanted to read them herself but they were too difficult for her due to her dyslexia) and, much to her chagrin I kept stopping to discuss the theme of free will that pervades the HP books.

To the people who say they would never let their child read HP books because reading them promotes witchcraft, have you READ them? Further, not letting them read the HP books does not guarantee that they will be pious, either.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Muncie on

I don't think I've sheltered my daughter in a bad way, she is only 6. I've tried to keep things age appropriate. So for when she's older, I think I would still do the same. If she wanted to read something I would definitely looking to it myself, just so I know for sure what she's reading. I would base it on an individual case basis.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

Just a thought.....just because we have an opinion on what our children read and just because we share that opinion and censor our children's books does not make us close minded. We don't tell you you are wrong for what you let your child read, we just choose not to let our children. The ones who assume that we think you are wrong are the close minded ones.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

I censor pretty heavily. Less as my son gets older (he's now 10, but started reading fluently between 3 & 4... Black Stallion / Harry Potter fluently), but still quite strongly.

Very definitely following along my own values.


- No hatemail. These are books whose sole purpose is to trash another individual, group, or endeavor. These range from political "We Are Right... They Are Evil" books, to various manifestos in different guises, to teeny-bopper "OMG... XYZ is sooooooooo lame.", to "Anyone over the age of 18 is stupid to make not-so-smart-kids-feel-smart." ((Doesn't mean we didn't/don't read orphan books, but it DOES mean we didn't / don't read cartoon-style 'all adults are idiots' books)).

- No propaganda (similar to the above, and often containing titles from the above), unless we're looking at it academically. For the purpose of critical thinking. There is powerful allure to the written word, and the most terrible things can either be made to sound worthy, or they can be completely omitted painting false pictures. We DO look at those from an academic standpoint.

- No erotica. It's banned. If he wants to read gory sex stories, he's going to have to sneak it. That simple.

- As few bad authors as possible. (I read what my son reads. I prefer not to read drivel.)

- Etc. (The list really does go on.)

As a writer, a teacher, an avid reader... the LAST thing I would do is just throw open the library doors and say "Have at." There are too many amazing voices to direct my son to, and too many hate mongers to direct him away from until he's older and can really understand the effects that such pens (mightier than swords) can inspire / read critically.

All very subjective, of course. But the older he gets the less influence I will have over what information he's assimilating, which voices he's hearing, which heros and villians he alligns himself with. I feel it's my job, as his mom, to give him a really firm foundation when he's young, so that he CAN choose critically, and listen critically, as he makes intellectual choices on his own.

Which is what is sounds like your friend is doing.
Personally... I LOVE Harry Potter. I also had my son reading books that are on a lot of people's "banned" lists (like ones when slavery was still legal). But we're all different people. With very different value sets.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

My daughter is 11 but a young 11, but I've not put a stigma on things. She basically is still into watching pg and some older pg can be scary for her. I take my lead from her. I find if you watch the tv with the kid or read the story with it gives you an opportunity to interract and discuss it. You mentioned Harry Potter. My daughter is fine with the first few but the last two tend to be a bit scary for her.Yet she watched teh hunter games no problem except for the end with the dogs.Now nudity I try to limit but also if an ooops happens on the tv she rolls her eyes and turns her head.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

I shelter to a certain extent, as DD is only 6. I don't believe in keeping anything & everything from your kids, because they will never learn about the world & how it works, that way. If you are taking opportunities to teach your children right from wrong, fake vs. real, etc. on a daily basis, and doing your job as a parent, I think that's the best thing you can do for them, to prepare them for the real world.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I don't think I censor too much when it comes to what my son watches and reads. I would be thrilled if he just felt like reading a book! He doesn't watch anything that has blood or a ton of violence. That's where I draw the line. Not only because he doesn't need to see something so graphic, but he doesn't like seeing people getting hurt. It effects him. That and sexual content. Lord, I don't want my son getting ideas at 8 years old! Who would? Other then those two things, I let him watch what he wants to. He's 8, so he is mostly intersted in Cartoon Network, Animal Planet, and the Science Channel anyways.

As far as reading, I wouldn't censor anything.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Sarasota on

I censor my 8-year-old. She reads at the high school level, but I don't think most of those books are appropriate for her. My feeling is that in the early years, I want to teach my daughter our value and to have a firm understanding of what OUR family thinks is right or wrong. Now that she is older, I am teaching her that there are many others that don't agree with us, but I don't care because we will stick to our beliefs. I didn't let her read the Harry Potter books until last spring and she was not allowed to see the movies until she had read the books. I think with the way the world is moving today, I think more parents should censor their children. Bottom line, each family needs to figure out their values and teach their children what is appropriate.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

People ban certain books/themes/TV shows/films from their house for good reason. For reasons that most people won't understand. Some of this stuff really is useless trash. And there are far more worthy things to take up the attention of children.

Years ago, before I became a Christian, before I read the Bible, I thought people who though the popularity of Harry Potter would lead children into witchcraft were off their rocker. Huh? This about encouraging reading!!! How could this be bad???

So I'll try to explain her view.

In the Bible, God forbids dabbling in the occult (read Deuteronomy 18).
9 When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. 10 Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, 11 or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. 12 Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord; because of these same detestable practices the Lord your God will drive out those nations before you. 13 You must be blameless before the Lord your God. (NIV)

Why? Why oh why would God warn His people not to do that? Because it's dangerous to them. God is trying to prevent harm coming to them. Because demons will disguise themselves as "angels of light" and pretend to be helpful spirits (spirit guides) and lead people away from God. To depend on THEM instead of God.

So this mom is afraid that a young child will be sucked into this world and develop an interest in
- divination
- witchcraft
- spells
- mediums
- New Age practices (tarot reading, spirit channeling, reiki, vision boards, dream catchers, etc...)
- etc...

Interestingly, if you go to any public library, there is a whole section of witchcraft/occult books (in the New Age/Occult section) aimed AT kids DUE TO the popularity of the HP. So, yes, HP books have increased interest and fascination in these topics, so kids are encouraged to learn these practices in depth. Not all obviously, but some will. And this is spiritually dangerous.

And HP shows a world where magic can be both used for good and evil. Whereas God says, no, it's ALL evil. Let's say there is a New Age practioner (Wiccan, psychic, reiki healer) out there and she's your neighbor. She can read tarot cards, talk to your guides, her guides and give you good advice. She is a lovely person. What she is really tapping into is something sinister, something that lies to you and seeks to destroy. She's fooled. She has no clue. Neither do the clients who come to her.

And the other poster is right about MAGIC themes being EVERYWHERE (especially Disney) and it appearing and harmless, good fun. This is a lure to make it seem harmless.

I have only read a few pages of HP, not the whole book. I've heard that in the book, Harry isn't that moral (lies a lot) and Hermoine is the goody-too shoes, who eventually gives in. Very interesting. Regardless, if my daughter was really set on reading these books, then I would let her and EXPLAIN God's view, that book, so she remained vigilant of the themes and knew the difference.

I'll give you an example. A few months ago, my 8 yr old was watching some TINKERBELL movie. The beginning intro was this gorgeous scene and narration of how nature sprites made nature and the world. I'm listening from the kitchen and I say, "honey, is that true? Magical fairies creating the world? Some unseen force that isn't God doing this?" No mom, I know... Ok we're clear, good. But I found it sad that kids are absorbing these messages and I wonder what imprint it leaves on them. I know many parents who are secular. No practicing faith. So what fills the void? The culture. And the culture and is not really providing wholesome themes. And we wonder why we have major problems and confusion.

I agree, that if you are going to let kids read these books, then use them as teachable moments. Talk about the lessons, what's really going on, question motives, just discuss deeply.

I haven't read the LOTR books. I'm only familiar with the films. I think the difference is that in HP it's young children who are wizards, at wizard school, having wizard adventures and so this stuff is modeled and encouraged (make a potion!!! cast spells!!!) as fun for them. Of course kids play. Pretend play is fine. Unfortunately some older kids do more than that. That's the danger. Now there are witch/wizard books (serious ones) that are marketed to them as a result of the HP craze. That has not happened with LOTR. See the difference?

Here is an example of the dangers of books that put occult practices on the forefront of the story (teacher brings ouji board to class, parents complain).

Ouji boards do open spiritual doors to demonic spirits. Do a google search. You'll find stories. Children or adult should not be messing with it. I've told my children never to play with one. But notice, "it's all to encourage reading!"

Many, many books (besides HP) have amazing life lessons embedded. Read THE TRUMPETER SWAN by E.B. White. No magic, just a talking, musical swan and an amazing story, life-affirming story (no constant streams of themes of death, death, and more death).

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Cumberland on

I fiercely sheltered my children when they were young-then they went to public school whereby a handful of monsters unraveled all my work in no time flat-you'll get your wish-someone will make available to them something way over-the-top inappropriate-and good luck on the recovery. It's often not about fiction v. reality-it's about shock value-it's about reality-that's the tough part. You can't "unring the bell".

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

I try to keep age appropriate in that I don't want my kids to grow up too fast in terms of boys, dating, drugs etc but witchcraft? That's kind of funny... I'm not sure that you're so lenient vs this mom is a bit out there.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on



answers from Chicago on

Judging from book sales, most parents agree with your line of thinking.

I am somewhat in the middle, but more towards the restrictive side.

My oldest is 5.5 and I don't let him watch most of the shows that are rated TV-Y7, because he is very impulsive and those types of shows with lots of fantasy violence and potty humor are copied by him over and over again, regardless of how many times I talk to him about it or punish him for doing/saying undesirable things.

To a certain point it IS realistic, and I think we SHOULD shelter our kids *let me reiterate-to a point*. I was 9 the first time I saw a movie that had any kind of swearing in it. It was "Batman," and I saw it when I was at my cousin's for a sleepover. My aunt and uncle still tease me because every time the word "hell" or "damn" was uttered, I gave my aunt and uncle a shocked look. I would like to think that I will also be able to keep my kids innocence in tact enough so that when they are 9 year olds "hell" and "damn" will still be shocking for them.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions