Continuing on the theme of children's literature, my soon-to-be-8-years-old daughter is reading a great book titled Flush, by Carl Hiaasen (who also wrote Hoot, which was made into a movie). She has been an environmentalist since she was 4, and loves the themes of stopping pollution, taking care of nature, etc, etc in Hiaasen's books. The book is marked as for 5th through 8th grade, but she's a pretty advanced reader (she's in 3rd grade) and isn't interested in the simpler, 3rd grader books.
Anyway, as my wife and I were tucking her in tonight, as she was putting the book away, she asked "Mommy, what's a rat bass-tard?" (emphasis incorrectly placed on the last syllable). We tried not to laugh... at the mispronunciation and the simple innocence of the question.
"Well, honey," we explained, "That's a not very nice name to call someone. It's a word you shouldn't say. Oh, and it's pronounced bas-turd." (*snicker snicker* it doesn't help that one of us thinks it's a pretty funny term).
So, should children's lit use words like that? Should kids be allowed to read them? Or does the use of the occasional light profanity negate any goodness in the book? Tom Sawyer and the n-word, anyone? Necessary or not, it's there. Your thoughts?