thThis is R.I.O.T. (Reading Instead of Television) month at my children’s elementary school.  RIOT month is supposed to encourage children to set aside “screen” time for good ole fashion reading.  This has never been an issue in our house.  We have been doing book time every night since my oldest was 2 years old.  Reading is just a way of life for us.  To be honest, it’s all my wife’s doing.  With that said, one of the rewards for participating in the program is that the children get to fill out slips for each “x” amount of minutes that they read.  They then use those as tickets in a drawing to win books that were donated by the community.  I think you can see the idea…self-reinforcing concept.  I must admit it’s a great program.  But there is an issue that came up recently.  Apparently, someone(s) decided to donate a collection of Christian texts to the school, a public school albeit.  I have my suspicions about the donors intentions.  My wife was extremely annoyed upon discovering that our 6 year old chose a children’s bible when she won the drawing.  Being a volunteer at the school she confronted the individuals about the religious text.  She was assured that it was simply overlooked when they were going through the donations.  I can understand that, if it was the truth.  Turns out, the following week, my wife, in her volunteer capacity was going through the donations and found no less than 5 additional books that were Christian focused.  She promptly pulled them out and will be donating them to a local church.

So what’s the point of this story?  To my surprise, my wife and I had very different reactions to this particular situation.  She was very irritated by it all and was upset that our daughter chose the book she did.  My stance was; despite the obvious attempt by a certain individual or individuals to push their agenda on impressionable children, I am not concerned by her being exposed to different views and ideas.  Was this an example of a violation of the 1st Amendment?  Maybe?  But ultimately my daughter chose the book herself.  She should be allowed to read what interests her.  That’s the difference between the open-mindedness of free thinkers and the narrowed-mindedness of religion.  Ultimately I want my children to be exposed to all kinds of ideas and being grounded in an upbringing that teaches them to be skeptical, rational and scientific, I am highly confident that they will come to truthful and factual conclusions.

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