We scheduled a trip to Amsterdam for the first weekend of May this year. I noticed when booking the Airbnb property we’ll stay in that it is “steps from the Anne Frank house.”
So I booked it, and my thought was (is) that we’ll take our two boys, ages 8 and 9, to see the house where the Frank family went into hiding during World War II.
Friends of ours lent us their copy of The Diary of Anne Frank when I told them about our upcoming trip. I presented it to our sons but neither has opened the cover yet. Anne’s ghostly smile has become a fixture around our house as I relocate the book to areas of home where they tend to flop at the end of a long day.
I’ve mentioned her in basic terms, telling them we would see her hiding place in Amsterdam in May. They asked what she was hiding from and we explained it. But they didn’t ask what happened after she was in hiding and we haven’t jumped to give those details.
To be honest, I’m not sure how I feel about them reading her diary at their age. Yes, it’s a record of huge historical importance, written by a young person. So it should help them understand history from a point of view they can relate to.
But are the circumstances of living during a World War (and dying in it) too much for them at their ages? Or is it me? I find myself censoring what they read more than I thought I was capable of. For example, I sometimes bring the London Evening Standard home on days when my commute takes me through Paddington Station past piles of free copies. Before I got home last week, I ripped out a story about a zoo tiger biting a man’s hand off, a woman drowning in Australia during a snorkelling trip, and a knife attack in London. Those things are worth removing from the reading diet of grade-school children… I think. But Anne?
What say the parents of the blogosphere? Is keeping the book from my sons censorship or sensible parenting?