Monday, May 31, 2010


Today Lucy and I read about George Washington in honor of Memorial Day (well, not really, but it would be quite organized of me to have holiday-appropriate activities. So far, we were late on MLK by about four months, T-Day by a month, and are early on July 4 by a month and a half. Sue me.)

Reading non-fiction books with Lucy makes me scratch my head.
  1. Context. She doesn't have any yet. Talking about the "Colonies" or "England"? Completely incomprehensible.
  2. Complexity. We read about a war. I told her today was a day to thank soldiers that fight wars for us. She said, "Yes, because there aren't any bad people in our country." Ahem. Also: How to explain that we're thanking soldiers, even if we don't always agree with or want the wars we fight? Ie, I tell her "War is bad!" and then I say, "Thanks, soldiers!" No wonder the poor child would usually rather read Babar*.
  3. Death. We try to be up-front about dying around here, since Lucy has already had a taste of it (her grandmother dying about a year ago). But when you're reading about history, everybody is keeling over. Betsy Ross was a widow three times! Soldiers get wounded! Then they die! The word "die" seems to be the one Lucy fixes on, and always asks about: "How did she die? Why? Why did he die?" etc. At one point, I said, "Well, honey, this was a long time ago, and people got sick and died more back then." Hmmm. Yes, the death rates have definitely decreased, what with modern medicine.
*I knew that the whole thing was sort of a colonialist allegory, but I had forgotten how colonial it was until I started reading it to L last week. Should one feel guilty reading an enchanting book that glorifies cultural imperialism, environmental degradation (let's clear the jungle to build Celesteville!), and kind of this weird dictatorial monarchy (Babar assigning jobs to all of the elephants)?
Sigh. Turns out this stuff is too complex for me, too.

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