Sunday, 12 April 2015

So what frightened you

in books when you were young? Anne Rooney was writing about this a few days ago in a post on "An Awfully Big Blog Adventure". There were a number of comments from other people at the end - mostly of the witches and tunnels variety. I understand those.
I mentioned a book I had as a child. It was a gift from my maternal grandmother - the sort of thing she would have delighted in. It terrified me. 
It was picture book for very young children, one of those "novelty" affairs. The front cover had some sort of animal on it and the eyes were made so that they moved. I cannot remember what the book was about. All I remember is my fear of it. 
Of course, given my maternal grandparents' and mother's adherence to Christian Science, I was not supposed to be afraid of anything. The book was produced over and over again. I screamed every time. 
Eventually my father discovered what was going on and threw the book in the fire. I sat on his knees sobbing and watched it being consumed in the flames. 
There were things in other books which frightened me but never in quite the same way. I was frightened of the wolf in Peter and the Wolf, the wolf in Red Riding Hood and the witch in Hansel and Gretel. Indeed I was not very fond of "fairy tales" before I went to school. Grimm's fairy tales were grim indeed. Perrault's were no better.
I was always upset at the way Ping the duck got smacked for being last in the line - perhaps because I was always last when it came to being in line for anything. I worried that the traffic would not stop for the ducklings in "Make Way for Ducklings". Would Milly-Molly-Mandy get into trouble? Would Peter Rabbit be all right? Would Heidi get home to her grandfather?
Despite all my worries I desperately wanted to read by myself - perhaps so that I could reassure myself that everything was going to be all right.
I could read by the time I went to school. I worked my way through the entire "infants" library and then the "big school" library. There were books that worried me, disturbed me and even alarmed me. I was careful to keep those things to myself. I never mentioned them to my parents. I didn't want to risk being forbidden to read anything. 
I wonder now how I would have coped with the books that are supposed to deal with "issues" like AIDS and other illnesses, death, divorce, racial issues, refugees, war and more. I don't think  I would have done too well. Would I, with all the negativity in many current books, even have been a reader? I don't know.
But, if some of those books are frightening or depressing children or making them anxious then is it any wonder they don't read?


Carole Blake said...

I had that book with wobbly eyes too but it didn't frighten me. But Hans Christian Anderson's woman with ice in her heart certainly did. Hated his stories. Especially The Little Mermaid. Still makes me shiver. Brrrr.

catdownunder said...

I don't like Anderson either - especially "The Red Shoes"!