Stereotyping and racism in literature

I recently read an article in the NYT about overt and subtle racism and stereotyping in literature (and film) and how one talks to young children about such things. It brought me back to the challenges in my own child rearing days. In “How to Read a Racist Book to Your Kids,” Stephen Marche addresses the subject of racism that is imbedded in our cultural classics. The policy in our household was one of delay. My husband and I wanted to protect our children from the ugly side of humanity, at least for a few years.  Thus, when my girls were little, TinTin in the Congo did not live on our bookshelves whereas when they grew a little older, Huck Finn did. It may not work for everyone, but it did work for us.

Marche doesn’t offer easy solutions to this inevitable parental dilemma, but his reflections make me believe that as long as parents are deeply concerned about stereotyping, racism, and inequality, humanity has a chance to be better in the future.

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