Anatomy off-limits in children's books?
We're quite comfortable with anatomical words in our house, freely using the word "breast" and "penis," because I subscribe to the theory that it's the most honest way to treat children -- and I don't feel the words themselves should hold any aura of naughtiness (while this is often recommended as a defense against sexual abuse, that's not why I do it -- it just seems right to me). That's part of the reason the uproar I read about in the New York Times regarding the use of the word "scrotum" in a children's book perplexed me.
Firstly, the reference is to a dog's scrotum, and the 10-year-old title character of The Higher Power of Lucky hears the word (a friend's dog is bit in the scrotum by a rattlesnake) and is fascinated by the word's unusual sound, "medical and secret, but also important." To be frank, it doesn't sound like my kind of book, but I now want to read it to all the kids I know as it's been banned in children's libraries and schools all over the U.S. According to one librarian in Colorado, "I don’t want to start an issue about censorship, but you won’t find men’s genitalia in quality literature." I beg to differ. (And this isn't a man's genitalia we're discussing -- it's a dog's!)
In my opinion, the uproar is ridiculous, on the "seeing a nipple will damage our children" scale of stupendous silliness. If you can't read the word "scrotum," then don't buy the book, I say. The article mentions that librarians from Portland weigh in on the issue, but doesn't say on which side -- as Multnomah County Library is famously liberal, and there are dozens of copies on order for the library system (with an astonishing 53 holds on the copies that are already in circulation) -- I'd say on the side of Lucky.
As I pat myself on the back for living here in Portland with our fabulous acceptance of such things, I wonder, what is your reaction to this anatomical hubbub?