Scary school reading books!

(13 Posts)
offwhitecurtains Wed 02-Oct-13 21:26:25

My six year old Y2 daughter told me she did 'guided reading' today. She said they sat at the table in her reading group and they were all given the same book to read silently to themselves. The teacher worked at another table with another group and left them to it. The book was a series of abridged 'classics' including a very non-Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame.*

The story was 'horrible' she told me. 'The girl was hanged and people were killed and 'I hated it'. She told the teacher that it upset her and she didn't want to read it but the teacher said she had to read it and that it was 'good for her' because it was 'the kind of book they read in the Juniors' (my daughter is NC L3 in reading). I asked my daughter's friend, who is in the same reading group, what the book was like and she said: 'Violent. I didn't like it.'

My daughter is a voracious reader but would never read a violent book. She doesn't like to read about death and killing and blood and young girls being killed. She doesn't watch violent films, she doesn't play computer games, she shuts her ears when I read to her and blood is mentioned. She is sensitive. But then... she is six.

Would it be reasonable to expect that reading age appropriate books should also be content appropriate? More to the point, how do I approach this nicely with the teacher.

*I only worked this out by getting her to explain the story. The bellfry, the dead girl and the man with the 'twisted spine' was a clue... but it was "Qua?... Quas...?" that really gave it away.

Periwinkle007 Wed 02-Oct-13 21:38:11

no I wouldn't be happy with that. Ok so there is a school of thought that says we over protect our kids by not exposing them to these things but I am sorry, I think at 6 they should be allowed to live in a happy little bubble.

I would actually be cross enough to send in a letter to the school saying she was upset, she told the teacher but was told she had to read it and why I am not happy about it. It would give my 6 year old nightmares I have no doubt about that. She is only just 6 but I still have to remove any stories involving animals dying, hunters tracking deer and so on. even if they have a happy outcome (the hunter ones, obviously not the dying ones). I would remove ones about kidnapping too, certainly would not knowingly expose her to anything like that. I don't even know the story myself as it wouldn't be something I would ever have been interested in reading. Perhaps I am stupidly oversensitive and overprotective but they are 6, they are just little children.

my dd also six also ahead in reading.school are working hard to find her books at her reading level and her maturity level.basically an awful lot if dick king Smithwink we had done project x extended band ones that gave away the end of movies I would never let her watch and Harry potter.dp was not impressed but at least they didn't scare her.

Periwinkle007 Wed 02-Oct-13 22:10:56

perhaps I shouldn't complain then that the books my daughter is being given are too easy. My daughter has just started in Yr1 but they restrict the books they have access to. She is reading chapter books but they are giving her very age appropriate ones, bit basic, bit short but at least they are sweet stories.

brambleandapple Wed 02-Oct-13 22:27:13

I would mention it. If your daughter is disturbed by it, which would seem justified considering the content, it could be completely counter-productive.

See what the teacher says, to be honest I do not see how making her read it, at this age, is justified.

offwhitecurtains Wed 02-Oct-13 22:27:39

Going home books can be ignored.
Sadly, it seems, 'guided reading' (even when it isn't being guided), can't.
Would really like to hear a teacher's view.

offwhitecurtains Thu 03-Oct-13 09:24:31

Some clarification: all but one of the other kids did not seem to mind the book; only my child went up and said that she and a friend did not like the book because it had killing and was scary.

The children were reading in pairs to each other. The teacher was working at another table.

It was a levelled reading book (12) and therefore presumably not a nightmare book of violence.

However, I suppose the issue is:

1. If a child goes up and says to the teacher she (and a friend) find the book scary and don't want to read it because of the violence should the teacher tell them to:

a. read it because it's 'good for you' and a 'junior book' and tell them to go back to the table.

b. ask them why they find it scary and persuade them that despite the scary bits it's a good book etc and explain away the violence in context. And then get them to read the book.

c. give them another book, or tell them to skip the scary bits (!), on the grounds that six year old sometimes find things frightening.

I think my child did the right thing telling the teacher what she felt and I feel that the teacher should have taken her concerns seriously.

My daughter is a good, easy-going, polite pupil, and is doing well in all subjects. She has only ever had positive comments about her behaviour/relationship with her teachers. So it's not as if she is a child who uses diversionary tactics to get out of doing something: she reads about two hours a day for pleasure, so it's very unlike her not to want to read a book.

MilkRunningOutAgain Thu 03-Oct-13 09:35:15

Had same issue with DS a few years ago. He had factual books about WW2 and was reading with a class older than him, at that time he was scared of all sorts of things including films/ books with very mild violence. He did get nightmares and it did put him off, he didn't tell anyone about it until the nightmares started. BTW, DS has always had regular nightmares about all kinds of things, I'm sure your DD won't, unless she is probe to them too.

Good for your dd for telling the teacher and you.

I think you should talk to the teacher, making kids read things that they are not ready for won't improve their reading.

My DS continued reading with the older class, but the school ( who were very helpful about it once I spoke to them) let me vet the guided reading books first and if it was a book that wasn't suitable for DS, he stayed in his own class instead. This worked well. And I think he still enjoyed the easier books from time to time.

DS will be 11 at the weekend and likes much scarier stuff these days!

Bramshott Thu 03-Oct-13 09:37:51

Do you think it's possible that she said "I don't like this book and I don't want to read it" and the teacher thought she was complaining because it was too 'hard'?

offwhitecurtains Thu 03-Oct-13 09:42:16

I don't think so as they have just been assessed for reading specifically because they are ahead, and the kids did not find the book too hard. (I asked if it was hard and they said no, medium, maybe the names like Quasimodo were hard..!).

My daughter insists she said she didn't like it because of the 'killing'. She is normally quite accurate. I guess it's possible that the teacher did think she just didn't want to read the book (although this is entirely out of character). Or perhaps I didn't make it clear earlier in the week that the book that the teacher gave them to read at home was also too scary (it was the wolves of willoughby chase). I shall give her the benefit of the doubt and maybe explain that they don't much like blood?

offwhitecurtains Thu 03-Oct-13 09:42:59

Sorry - the table they have been at has been recently reassessed.

offwhitecurtains Thu 03-Oct-13 09:46:40

Thanks Milk. That helpful. Shall just find a nice way to explain that she doesn't like blood, fighting etc.

NoComet Thu 03-Oct-13 09:53:12

DFs very bright DD had this problem too. She could read any book in the school by 6, but wasnt at all ready for the content.

Schools really are smug about this sort of thing. From not having a box of difficult, but non upsetting reading books, through showing Anne Franks diary, to every book and play on the GCSE syllabus being depressing.

It's all doom and gloom.

DD2 was asked to bring nn a picture of suffering for RE (ok she's 12), but surely they could just talk, not gaup at some poor soul off tbe internet.

DD1 refused point blank to do history GCSE as it was the holocaust for the third time.

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