Should books on violence be banned for kids?

Should books on violence be banned for kids?

Children at the Neev Literature Festival on Friday. DH PHOTO/B K Janardhan

“Why do I interpret that the Shudras were right and the Brahmins were wrong when I read my history textbook? Why is the content toned that way? IS it the writer’s fault or the readers?”

The barrage of posers from a 10-year-old boy stunned the panel at the Neev Literature festival on Friday that mused on the subject ‘stories told/suppressed’.

One of the panelists then replied: “that’s why one should read various books based on the subject to get different perspectives. Children should come out of their textbooks to understand the world better.”

The discussion turned to parents regarding books dealing with violence and adult-restricted as taboo, though some of them are open enough to let their children read books without restriction.

“We should let children make a choice and recognize the right book for them,” said Kavita Gupta Sabharwal, Founder and Managing Trustee at Neev Academy.

“A child reading books on violence must be a voracious reader, so that (such) books will give them better perspective and it won’t be the only perspective. Our brain romanticizes negative emotions. If a child reads only dark literature, it’s not ok. Parents should be alarmed about it,” Kavita added.

Panelists also spoke on the need to read in local languages and local stories. “Local stories of their origin and culture give them an insight into the soul of their community,” said Sandhya Rao, a panelist.

“Especially, the fiction will drag kids out of the box. They’ll understand the traits of the local leaders and their culture, which their textbooks don’t provide them,” Rao added.

Some writers felt books in local languages are limited in India and their quality may not be good.  

Talking about how the digital age is influencing children, Kavita urged that they should not be googling, or skimming information from the websites.  “A large number of clicks may lead them to different websites and divert them from where they started searching. This may or may not mislead them, but, in a way, it’s not the right practice,” she said.

The two-day Neev Literature Festival that kick-started on Friday was centred on the theme of Taking Children’ Literature Seriously. The second day includes sessions on ‘Getting your child reading’, ‘Pros and cons of a set formula’, ‘Triggering imagination’, ‘Conflicts that Matter’, ‘Building empathy and self-awareness’ and many more.