Monday, April 4, 2011

D is for dirty words

I LOVE to read. I enjoy just about anything, from Stephen King to religious novels, but I do have a pet peeve. And that is bad language in books written for kids.

I know that there are quite a few authors who preach, keep it 'real,' that kids use those words. Maybe so, but not in my house. You'll get your mouth washed out with soap if you talk like that under my roof. I'm the only one gets to swear. Period. Sounds hypocritical? Yep. It is. But those are grown up words and once you're a grown up, you can use them if you choose.

My kids always tell me that they hear that crap all day long at school. Just one more reason not to read it. Why fill our brains with filth? You can usually tell how a book will be after the first couple of pages and even I, as an adult, will put a book down if there's a bunch of swearing right at the beginning.

Let's continue to write great stories, especially for our youth. They are our future. Let's fill their minds with imagination, adventure and fun, knowledge, excitement and predicaments. Not garbage.

There. Now I'll get off my soap box!


Chantele Sedgwick said...

I agree 100 percent. There are places in my books where there could be a swear word or two, but I opt out of using them. Teens hear enough of it at school. They don't need to read about them too. Great post. :)

Fran said...

Sometimes I get kids volunteering to read a certain section and I think, 'oh good, it's not often they volunteer' and then I realise why they wanted to do it! So they could say the swear words ...

LTM said...

I dunno. I mean, on the one hand, I totally agree with you and try to avoid swearing in my writing. On the other hand, there are times when a particular character swears. And that's just who s/he is.

As for the effect on kids, I grew up in a very strict house, and all the HS books I was assigned to read were filled w/cursing--Toni Morrison, Kurt Vonnegut, etc. My dad even complained to the school once. *shame!* ;p

Reading these words did NOT result in me being a potty mouth in any way.

great topic~

Old Kitty said...

Oooh I like that your D word topic is controversial!!!! Yay! Take care

Deborah said...

>>> barges past to get on the soapbox you've just vacated...

I so agree, Melissa. It's upside-down thinking to give young people sloppy books containing bad language because it's thought that those are what they will agree to read, when what we should be doing is taking the trouble to find fine books that will engage them on a more demanding level.

The same way it makes me angry that schools won't teach 'hard' subjects like whole Shakespeare plays and Latin because it's somehow "not fair" to expect the students to suffer them, or it's beyond them. What's actually happening there is that those students are being deprived of the chance to learn through low expectation.

The Superintendent's Wife said...

Well said!

KarenG said...

And for some reason reading a swear word seems more intense than hearing it.

Melissa J. Cunningham said...

Kitty- I love discussing controversial subjects. Way more fun.

LTM- I totally get where you're coming from too. In fact, I have put a word or two in my books and then took them out. I just couldn't do it. Too many people know me and what I believe as far as that goes. Plus, I know my kids would throw a fit! LOL They hate it when a word like that slips out of my mouth. They make me want to be a better person and I don't want to disappoint them.

Everyone has the agency to right how they want, but just think how many more books that author would sell if all the language was clean. More parents would purchase it. You know? It can always be written like..

"Johnny let loose with a string of curse words that made my hair curl."

Not fabulous, but you get the picture. LOL

Melissa J. Cunningham said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cathy Witbeck said...

Gotta agree. It just makes me mad when an author thinks they have to put nasty language in to make it sound like something kids would hear today. They hear enough. Let's give them a break. If reading is an escape, let them escape already.

Paul M said...

Good on ya! "Keeping it real" is overrated. Really, who picks up a book with the intent to remain in the real world, anyway? I hate bad language, whether in a book, or in person. As far as I'm concerned, I'm glad to live in fantasy land if it means I don't have to absorb that trash.

Great article!

Lisa said...

Hey Melissa, just wanted to leave you a comment to let you know I frequent your blog and stalk your postings. ;)

giddymomof6 said...

Wahooo! A woman after my own heart. I find it a greater challenge to write a believable book without the words... it can be done.


Michelle in a shell said...

I agree. There's no need for bad language in a children's book when they already are exposed to it all the time in every day life!

Angela Felsted said...

Yeah, I really wanted to read Going Bovine. When I found a copy at the library I was totally excited, then I opened it and the language was terrible. After two pages, I put the book down.

I'm sad about that because I like Liba Bray.

Manzanita said...

I agree and why do we need dirty words in adult books?They are always so jarring.
Wanna buy a duck

Adeeva Afsheen said...

Banned complain !! Complaining only causes life and mind become more severe. Enjoy the rhythm of the problems faced. No matter ga life, not a problem not learn, so enjoy it :)

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