Sanitizing Children's Literature
For those who have not heard, the Canadian independent publisher Pamela McColl has updated Clement Clarke Moore's 1823 Christmas poem , "A Visit From St. Nicholas," by deleting two lines regarding Santa's pipe and its ubiquitous cloud of smoke. McColl, an anti-smoking activist, hopes her version of the poem will deter children from smoking. Although the recent publication of this bowdlerized version of " 'Twas the Night Before Christmas" has become fodder for comedians, I am not amused.
This event reminded me of an incident that occurred when one of my student-teachers read The Tale of Despereaux , by Kate DiCamillo, to her 4th graders. As she shared the scene in which a father, cigarette in his clamped mouth, sells his daughter, she looked up to find 24 pairs of horrified eyes upon her. She paused, recognizing this was troubling. Wisely, she...
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