Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Banned, Censored, Challenged: In the Night Kitchen

In the Night Kitchen was written in 1970 by Maurice Sendak- the same Sendak who wrote the Little Bear Series, Where the Wild Things Are and Chicken Soup with Rice (a book that I still read aloud over and over with a childlike enjoyment that is somewhat disturbing, given my ripe old age of 20).

In the Night Kitchen is a weird, trippy tale about a little boy's dream in which he is baked into a loaf of bread. It caused a stir because the little boy is pictured naked.

Some say that the nudity in this picture book teaches kids that child molestation is okay. "Children are taught that their private parts are private." But Mikey isn't flashing anybody- he's just having a dream. We all occasionally dream about being naked. That isn't wrong.
To link dreaming about yourself in the buff with being molested is dangerous and confusing to a small child. What if they are unable to recognize bad touching if it happens? What if they falsely accuse an innocent person?

What happens if they catch a glimpse of Michelangelo's David without his leaf?

To me, sensitizing a child to nudity is the opposite of morality. You are teaching them that every depiction of the human body is sexual, "pornographic". That they are meant to be titillated by any honest depiction of the human body. It makes me think of the men in the Middle East who say that women must be covered head to toe so they won't get aroused.

One wonders what kind of horn-dog would be incapacitated by the sight of a wisp of hair. Probably the kind of horn-dog whose parents and teachers have sexualized everything in an effort to teach "morality".


Cleopatra said...

I really cannot fathom people banning books because of the way their sick twisted mindsthinks and the way they contort innocent things and turni them into something sordid. A children's book! come on people this is America. It always amazes me how stupid people can be at times.

Cleopatra said...

I cannot fathom people who ban books because of the way their sick twisted minds contort innocent things and turn them into something sordid. A children's book! It's amazing how stupid people are at times.

Mardel said...

I have that book in the school library where I work. I borrowed it to read to my granddaughter (had never read it before, never) who is two years old. We were reading it, and there it was. In all his splendor. front view too, full monty. She pointed it out, I laughed, she laughed, we shouted naked baby! and continued with the book. My daughter thought it was creepy, and I just said it's a DREAM. Don't worry.

It's been a couple months now, and I see no signs of trauma or mental stress! :)

Bookpusher said...

Good point about sensitizing children to nudity being a mistake.