Friday, April 3, 2009

Mom's concerns about Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

So I have been reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to my 4.5 and 2.5 year olds (and the baby, who is marvelous and now almost SIX months old!  Time flies!)  Our reading time has been fantastic, we all gather in the living room and the boys putter with toys a little bit while they listen to the story.  We are around page 61 and Charlie is entering the factory after meeting Mr. Wonka.  Both the boys love listening to the story and are very interested.

I mentioned in the other post about how I was scared of the oompa loompas (particularly in the movie, with their eerie song).  I browsed ahead and I am worried about whether I should continue reading the book..... soon Augustus Gloop will behave badly, fall into the chocolate river, get sucked up the tube, and his parents will freak out.  Honestly, it still freaks ME out.  I'm a little disturbed by what happens to the kids in the chocolate factory.  My first reaction is to skip the rest of the book.  That's not a good lesson in starting what you finish.  I wonder if the kids will have a better reaction than me, I wonder if I can read the story in a way that minimizes the fears and the events that I find disasterous and be more positive.  I think maybe I could use it as a little lesson for my boys, talking about how Augustus really should not have drank out of the chocolate river and using the book as an example in manners and behaving well.  Perhaps I can make it work out in a way that is good for the boys.  

I am a little worried though.  I was a serious child and I'm a pretty serious person and I am concerned that the kids are not freaked out by the story.  My kids are sometimes serious and sometimes little goofballs.....  I wonder if we can take the story as a goofy, make-believe thing.

I would love to hear your advice!


Bookworm said...

Hi Karen!

I am glad to see your post about this. I had previously read that you were reading this book to your boys, and I was immediately curious about and anticipating a final review of the book and how it went with the boys. I did not anticipate hearing from you this soon though!

I'm glad you posted your thoughts and that you asked for others to share their thoughts.

Last night, we finished reading James and the Giant Peach also by Roald Dahl. "James..." and "Charlie..." are the two most popular books by Dahl (that I hear of anyway). I will not be putting James and the Giant Peach on my recommended booklist. Poor James' parents die and he has to live with his two abusive aunts. That alone is a nightmare! Also, I do not approve of the poor choice of words (that appear in abundance) such as idiot, stupid, brat and "the other word for a donkey" which was used three times. Plus, the characters in the book were so rude to each other. Yes, the adventure was original and fun...but not that exciting. ~Hardly worth having to deal with all the necessary editing.

Although we did finish this book, I considered stopping. But, one of my boys wanted to keep reading b/c he feels strongly that he HAS to finish every book he starts. I do believe it is important to teach our children this principal (finishing what we start) but I also believe that I need to teach them that it is O.K. to not finish a book if you have a good reason. As long as the reader is not going to stop reading a book out of laziness, and there's a real possibilty of exposing them to something they're not mentally, emotionally or spiritually mature enough for, I think it's perfectly fine to not finish a book. In their lifetime, they will (hopefully) read many books and as adults they will need to be able to discern whether or not they should keep reading a book that is questionable. If we model that discernment for them as well as teach them how to use their own discernment, they will have a good foundation for when they're complteley on their own in the land of literature.

Along those lines, I learned and have taught my boys that just because a book has an award or a medal or is popular with the other kids, that does not necessarily mean it's a good book choice for them.

I'll be curious as to what you decide to do. For me it's either been that (1)we keep reading and I just edit things OR (2)we all come to an agreement to not finish the book.

Hope this helps!

Sherrie said...

I really enjoy your blog. But -- you know...we have watched Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (the old movie...not the Johnny Depp version) time after time. We always use Augustus, Violet, and all the other children as examples to our son. I honestly think that it is a great teaching tool when it comes to teaching right from wrong. If you listen to the oompa loompas and their's very neat how they teach a lesson in each one. Again, I'm basing this all on the older version. We have watched the Johnny Depp version once, and we do not like it at all. It's a very dark movie. Now, I have never read the book associated with the movie, so it may be different. But -- I just wanted to share a different opinion. :)