Gaiman versus Colbert with a dash of Art Spiegelman

It doesn’t get any better than this…

Stephen Colbert interview with Neil Gaiman

Just to stir things up a bit – where DO you fall on the children’s literature continuum – are the Brothers Grimm a better choice for children or Goodnight Moon-type feel good books?  Okay, so that’s not a great comparison due to age differences, but I guess what I’m asking is should children be allowed to be scared, to find literature complex and sometimes overwhelming, or should books be “safe” for young readers?

To start things off, I’m all for challenging sensibilities, although I think children are fairly good at understanding their own limits or communicating that to caregivers when they’re still young.  My son would not have done well with “scary” too early, but over time, he loved dipping his feet in bit-by-bit and the world of Tolkien (via the Hobbit) was a huge read-aloud hit even at age seven.

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12 Responses to Gaiman versus Colbert with a dash of Art Spiegelman

  1. Susan says:

    Oh, wonderful. I did laugh out loud. Thanks, Jen. (Can you imagine Art & Stephen- well, his “personal” together…oh:)

    • Um… no, I really can’t. I can see Art being driven crazy by Stephen, in all probability.

      I was laughing out loud, too – something I don’t indulge in very often. It felt good. 😉

  2. April says:

    Your question reminded me of this book I reviewed a while back: http://formerlyaprildawn.blogspot.com/2009/04/real-power-behind-reading.html
    While you can’t go too far, I think books do have to engage children emotionally, and fear is part of that: just like how much children’s movies have a scary or dark part, this is part of what connects them.
    And I just might have to get The Graveyard Book for Riley – I think she’d love it.

    • There are many theories as to the darker side of children’s literature. One idea is that stories were used as warnings to keep the children by the hearth (but not so close they might get burned), away from water, the woods, etc., etc. Jung, Campbell and others feel it’s part of a collective subconscious, some point to studies, etc., etc. I think you have to know your child and know their limits, but as in anything else, you have to let them try to stretch their boundaries a bit. 😉

  3. anne says:

    This clip made me laugh, too…. as a kid, I never liked anything too scary. My daughter, though, has always loved ghosts and monsters. Suspect she’d love Gaiman’s book!

    • I’m guessing she would, too. My son and I were discussing an anime series with her the other day, and we both explained that the beginning was really disturbing and gory but it was a set-up for the rest of the series, and then I remembered that one of her favorite films is Sweeney Todd. Well, I stopped worrying.

  4. Goofball says:

    I don’t think I got all the funny parts

  5. Karen Olson says:

    This is an interesting question, and one I’ve been contemplating lately since I’m writing a young adult book at the moment. I’ve been reading a lot of YA as well, and have been really surprised at the amount of violence/gore/horrors in them. My book is rather tame on that scale and I keep wondering if I shouldn’t ratchet up the suspense, the violence a bit. My daughter, who’s read the books I’ve been reading, doesn’t seem disturbed by them, while they have affected me, especially UNWIND by Neal Shusterman. I keep thinking maybe she didn’t “get it.”

    • I’ll have to look at UNWIND. I’m wondering if kids are being inured to violence via the media onslaught. What’s now “okay” in commercials for films, video games, etc., and played prime time, appalls me. I, of course, was one of those total wimp kids who hid her face during the witch scenes during the annual showing of THE WIZARD OF OZ. It might be interesting to toss your YA to your daughter when you’re ready and maybe some of her friends and get their opinion. I did that with my students and my son with my YA and I got a lot of good feedback.

  6. Susan says:

    Head’s up. There’s a drive on internet (no doubt driven by Stephen himself:) to hold a Restoring Truthiness Rally in DC on 10/10/10. Some Friday night fun.

  7. WOW! That *would* be fun! My husband, son and I had a truthiness fest last night because we were all exhausted and needed to laugh and laugh. Is this in response to Becalin?

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