Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Appropriate age for "Vanished"?

A mother recently e-mailed me the following:
Can you tell me if it is appropriate for a teacher to read Vanished to 8-year-olds? I haven’t read the book, but know it did upset my son. I was thinking the teacher should have told us about the book first since it is based on true events. Just wanted to get your thoughts on it.
My paraphrased response:
Thanks for writing. I’m sorry to hear Vanished upset your son. I understand how you feel.

I wrote
Vanished with sensitivity. Yes, generally speaking, it is unsettling subject matter. But I chose stories that did not involve violence, sexual activity explicit or implied, drug use, and anything else inappropriate for children. As for the youngest age that it is suitable for, that depends on the individual. I do know of 8-year-olds reading it and handling it well. I personally think it’s best for grades 4 and up.

Two of the seven stories are about people who vanish but who then save themselves—and both of them are children. While some of these stories do have frightening moments, ultimately I find them empowering and inspirational.
I did not understand why she emphasized the fact that these are true stories. It seems as if she's saying that if they were fictional, it would somehow be better? In any event, I sent her a copy of the book to see for herself. I will update here if she sends feedback.

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