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Education Reporter

What Is Your Child Reading?

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Media attention has focused on the importance of knowing what children and teenagers read. Both The Glenn Beck Program and The Laura Ingraham Show featured segments about parents who were shocked to find out about what their children were reading. Last summer, The Wall Street Journal featured "You're Reading . . . What?" that exposed the binge drinking and incest topics appearing on the pages of young-adults books. The story also pointed out that "subject matter is rarely clear from a book's title or its graphics."

A Mother's Story 
As one mother discovered, gone are the days of trusting that school reading material is carefully reviewed for content and age-appropriateness.

Susan Gamble was thrilled that her third grader had a voracious reading appetite. However, she was alarmed when he came to her with a question about a curse word in a book he was reading. Looking through the pages, Susan found expletives throughout. The book also contained passages about a man fondling a woman's breasts, children looking at pornographic magazines and references of gore and child abuse. Susan did not expose her child to these images on television or in movies. She wondered why the book was offered as a reading option.

After speaking with her son's teacher, principal and librarian, Susan discovered that book content reviews did not exist. Because this book received many honors, it was offered as acceptable reading. Susan did not dispute that the book held value for an older child; however, she did not think her child was ready for it at his age and emotional level.

To help her son make informed choices in his reading, Susan began searching for information on children's books. She went to bookstores, libraries and schools, but found no help. Thus, the idea was sparked to create an online resource that provides details about the content of popular children's books. It's called Facts on Fiction and has been created with the assistance of the Alabama Policy Insitute.

Facts on Fiction provides reports of children's literature using the format of a movie review. The reviews contain book content details, information on the topics, and points to discuss with children.

Facts on Fiction does not censor books, remove books from libraries, or make reading suggestons.

Book reviewers include retired teachers, librarians, home-schooling moms, and writers. They answer over 60 questions concerning the areas listed, as well as list the corresponding page numbers so that parents are able to quickly determine for themselves if the material is suitable for their child.

Find out more about Facts on Fiction: www.factsonfiction.org.

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