Saturday, May 12, 2007

Re-Read Iggie’s House

When I was perhaps in fourth grade I read Judy Blume’s book “Iggie’s House”. Back when I was a preteen and a teenager I read all of Judy Blume’s book which were in print at that time and she was my favorite author.

The book was originally published in 1970 and it is a short book of “juvenile fiction”.

I re-read it to myself recently and it was very interesting. I was wondering if it would be a good read-aloud or if my children should read it to themselves as part of their homeschooling reading practice time. I had completely forgotten what the book was about and knew from a brief mention on a website that the theme was racism.

The book is dated and now I know what librarians mean when they say a children’s book is dated. In my case, it means that in order for a child to understand this book they would have to be prepped about what things were like back in that time, as it is not the same now. A child could not instantly take what they know about life right now and understand the book as things are just different now. The book is so short that I don’t feel that it did enough to explain to the reader what things were like in order to understand it, it was assume back at the time of publication that all the readers would understand the general mindset of white suburban America and would know that racism issues were focused on issues regarding black people.

Without ruining the plot I will share that the book takes place in a 99% white, middle-class suburb. The town is painted as being full of racists, that is, white people against black people. Winnie is a white girl who is upset that her best friend Iggie has just moved away (half way across the world). Iggie’s family was more liberal and had a more accepting worldview such as not being racist. Winnie’s only exposure to that mindset was her experiences with Iggie and her family. The influence of Iggie’s family allowed Winnie to be more open-minded than the rest of her neighborhood.

What happens is that a black family moves into Iggie’s house. Winnie makes friends with the three children (two boys her age and a young girl). Winnie is open to friendship with black children. However the neighbors (adults and children alike) and Winnie’s own parents suddenly show their prejudice.

I won’t reveal what happens.

The book went by very quickly for me, hey, I’m an adult. But I was again riveted to the book and didn’t want to put it down. I stayed up late to finish it, chucking at myself at the idea that I was losing sleep over reading a juvenile fiction book meant for preteens, but hey, it really was good.

The book of course has lessons and morals and values. It gives things to think about. I also shed a few tears while reading it.

I do plan to have my children read this book but beforehand we’ll have discussed how things were different back then than they are now. Or perhaps I’ll have them read this at the time we are learning about 20th Century American history as an interesting historical fiction companion to learning about the civil rights movement.

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1 comment:

Mommy2Lots said...

That sounds vaguely familiar. I'll have to read that and also let my children read it. We already do black history, so my kids may already understand it, but I'm sure I'll give them a prep talk as well. Good luck with yours. :-)