“Lovingly Alice” targeted in newspaper

Question:
 
I was alarmed and a little indignant when I discovered an article targeting Lovingly Alice in my state newspaper. I would love to hear your response about this, and I am planning to write a letter to the editor about the importance of your books for young children. I just got home from college, and I had the newest Alice book waiting for me! Once I read it, I will write again to let you know how I liked it! Here is a link to the article: http://www.azcentral.com/community/nephoenix/articles/2011/05/17/20110517paradise-valley-school-book-complaint.html

 

Phyllis replied:

 

I just talked with a radio station in that area yesterday, and gave my views on the situation.  Those pages from Lovingly Alice are some of the favorites of Alice fans, typical Alice, typical Dad, typical Lester.  At a 5th grade slumber party, Alice and her friends are discussing menstruation, and how a sperm gets inside a woman in the first place.  They have some idea, but aren’t sure, and assign Alice to ask her Dad and report back.  These pages are not pornography.  They are simply the facts of life, told as simply, and as lovingly, as Alice’s poor bumbling Dad can manage, with Lester’s comments on the side.  I think that parents get blindsided when their child comes to them and says, in effect, “Look what I’m reading.”  I believe that children will take their cues from their parents.  If a parent says, “Hmm.  Let’s read this together.  Do you feel comfortable doing that, or do you want to wait and read this book when you’re older?” a child feels free to discuss it, if it bothers her.  This mother, on the other hand, reacted by going to the school and asking that it be removed from children like her daughter.  Evidently the daughter had been advanced a grade, and was reading the book at 8, even though the recommendation was 9 to 12.   My question is, are there no other books in that library a bit too advanced for the daughter?  No science or math books that are beyond her present understanding?  Is a library to dumb down their collection because a younger student might happen upon something too old for her?   The real problem here, I think, is that the mother felt she was on the spot.  She either had to help explain something she might not have felt ready to do, or was too embarrassed to do, so she placed the blame on the school library collection.  I hope that the school realizes that other children may have wished they had the answers to Alice’s questions long before this.  These are the questions I asked my own mother when I was 9, and to the best of my memory, she answered just as Alice’s father does in the book.  I’ve been forever grateful that she didn’t make a big deal of it and make me feel that there was something creepy or wrong or too strange about human sexuality for me to know.

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