Colouring 9/11?

31 Aug

When I was a child, I liked colouring books as much as the next kid. Or at least, I liked them as much as the next kid who was as artistically challenged as I was. I was never one to stay inside the lines, and have a vague memory of my Kindergarten teacher yelling at me for “scribbling instead of colouring” a picture of a kite.

The pictures featured in my childhood colouring books were pretty much what you would expect. Mickey Mouse. Donald Duck. Puppies chasing giant beach balls. Little kids riding tricycles. There was certainly never anything violent, because who would expose a six-year-old to violence through such an innocent medium? I think the only picture that suggested physical harm was of Bugs Bunny falling off a cliff. But even then, everyone knew that Bugs Bunny wouldn’t actually die, or even be hurt. He would merely create a bunny-shaped hole in the ground, from which he would emerge unharmed and carry on with whatever he had been doing.

I was never given a colouring book that depicted, say, scenes from World War II or the arrest of Nelson Mandela. I never coloured in pictures of tragedy or violence. The same goes for my kids. Their colouring books show scenes from The Backyardigans or Dora The Explorer. Nothing about war, death or disaster. Even if I saw that kind of material on the shelves, I would not get it. I already have enough trouble with the influences of TV and the Internet.

It would seem, though, that not all parents think the same way I do. According to today’s issue of The Metro, ten thousand copies of a 9/11 colouring book have been sold. Across the United States, ten thousand kids are colouring in pictures of the burning towers and the shooting of Osama bin Laden. The publishers of the book, which is at least partially aimed at a demographic that wasn’t even alive at the time of the attacks, defend the book, saying that it simply tells the story of the planning, execution and aftermath of the attacks.

I am all for freedom of information, and I have already learned, after just eight years of parenting, that it is futile to try and shelter kids from the darker side of life.

I have to say, though, that this book concerns me. When the time comes for me to educate my child about 9/11, I do not believe a colouring book will be the means to do it.  Particularly not a book that includes statements designed to encourage our kids to discriminate against others.

“These attacks will change the way America deals with and views Islamic and Muslim people around the world.”

I cannot possibly support a book that sends the message that it is OK to treat any group of people differently based on their race and religion. Yes, I get that the people responsible for 9/11 were bad and evil. I have no argument with that. But a statement like that suggests that our kids should treat the little Muslim kid in their class differently to the way they treat everyone else.

Parents, would you buy this colouring book for your kids? Do you believe it is a valid educational tool, or is it just another avenue for the promotion of stereotypes?

(Photo credit: This picture has a creative commons attribution license.)


2 Responses to “Colouring 9/11?”

  1. transplantedx3 August 31, 2011 at 1:23 PM #

    No – I wouldn’t purchase it, nor allow my kids to watch news related items concerning it. Who would do that their kids? That awful.

  2. Shari Goss (@knitwitshair) August 31, 2011 at 1:33 PM #

    No I would not. Nothing in there is a message I would like my boys to know about. I will tell them about what happened that day from how my hubby and I lived through it.

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