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Am I a bad mum for exposing my daughter to the Nazi’s?

on July 15, 2014

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My daughter asked me on several occasions if she could hold a book club – she wanted to be just like mum. I finally relented and set a date for a kid’s book club.

Each child was asked to bring their favourite book – the kid’s ages ranged from 9 to 11. They all had a chance to talk about their favourite book.

One of the kids discussed in detail the Morris Gleitzman Holocaust trilogy – Once, Then and Now (subsequently a fourth book After has been published). The kids were fascinated about these books.

My daughter begged me to borrow the Gleitzman books from the Library. We did and she loved them.

A month later, I was shocked to see the children’s book club being described in a National Blog as a bad example of parenting.  Apparently my actions had led to the loss of the age of innocence.

At the book club, one of the kids,  was the best friend of the blogger’s child. The blogger had seen the girls playing Nazis in the backyard. She found out about the book club and was shocked. She described the bookclub as part of “the competitive world of the middle class… kids reading books for way beyond their years”. The blogger went on to say that she wanted her children to read fairytales and remain innocent. Well we all know that fairytales are not violent (evil step mums, witches who want to eat children, hungry wolves and child slavery).

I was upset about the blog. The kid’s book club had been a lovely day where the kids eagerly discussed books, ran around and then ate some healthy foods. It now appeared that I was part of this group of mums forcing our children to become some sort of intellectual elite.

Since that time my daughter has read the four Morris Gleitzman books and The Diary of Anne Frank. My daughter regularly watches Who Do You Think You Are (where the Holocaust is frequently mentioned). My daughter is 12.

So what age is appropriate for children to learn about a very tragic event? In this digital age it is hard to stop our children from learning about matters, which are horrifying. Kids just need to listen to the news on the radio or watch the nightly news to know that there is evil in the world. I would rather my child learn about the Holocaust in a well-written book by a respected children’s author. I want my child to understand that it is not acceptable to treat people differently because they practice another religion or they are another race.

I wrote to the author and asked him for the appropriate age, he suggested from 9 upwards. In fact this is his view on exposing children to difficult subjects

“there has traditionally been a view that childhood is a quarantineable place where children are shielded, where they can grow and develop without being troubled. But children’s writers have come to realise that while some of that is to be respected, it has become increasingly irrelevant because we all have such open access to everything.”

What are your thoughts? When should a child be exposed to tragic historical events?

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