Burning Books with Bad Endings

Campaigning parents plan to burn children’s books with grisly endings

Children’s books that don’t have happy endings should be banned, it was claimed yesterday.Youngsters are already exposed to enough misery in their lives and should be protected from such stories, says a parents’ group.

The Happy Ending Foundation is planning a series of Bad Book Bonfires for later this month, when parents will be encouraged to burn novels with negative endings.

The foundation has also written to school librarians across the country to coincide with Children’s Book Week, which began on Monday, urging them to take ‘ controversial’ books off shelves.

Last night critics of the group said children needed a healthy balance in their reading.

Others said the book burnings were a sinister reminder of similar events in Nazi Germany.

Among the stories on the foundation’s blacklist are best-sellers such as A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket and Marcus Pfister’s Milo and the Magical Stones.

Works that make the approved list include Raymond Brigg’s The Snowman and Enid Blyton’s Famous Five series.

The Snowman appears to have a sad ending because he melts, leaving the boy he has befriended alone. But the foundation claims it ends positively because the boy is contented, having the snowman’s scarf to remember him by.

Adrienne Small founded the organisation when her ten-year-old daughter became depressed and withdrawn after reading the first book in the Lemony Snicket series.

She said: “I talked to other mothers and friends and we decided to do something positive with books that were more upbeat.

“I’m not trying to say the world should be viewed with rose-tinted glasses but you have got to do your best to protect your children.”

Mrs Small, 47, who is married with two teenage children, founded the organisation in 2000 and there are now 11 groups across the country, including London, Bristol, Manchester and Glasgow.

Clare Hughes, head of the foundation’s East of England Cheering Committee, said: “I’ve seen the way my children respond to real life, whether that be the disappearance of a child, like Madeleine McCann, or bombings, and that gives them enough nightmares.

“Books should let them be assured that the goodies will come out on top.”

But children’s charity Kidscape condemned a campaign which would lead to young people ‘missing out on the magic of literature’.

Director Michele Elliott said: “There is a distance between you and a book which allows you to experience emotions and think about what’s happening – but it’s not happening to you. That’s incredibly healthy.

“There has to be a balance. I would not feed children a complete diet of morbid books.”

Award-winning children’s author Kevin Brooks, whose books have a reputation for emotional rollercoasters and disturbing cliffhangers, said the proposed burnings were reminiscent of the Nazi regime.

“Controversy and bad stuff is everywhere,” he said. “It is far better to find out about it in books where it is written with some feeling and poetry and power.”

Personally, I don’t like bad endings, but I think this is too much! Literature in some ways is a reflection of life, and by taking the element of sadness away in books would just make reading more fantastical and escapist than it is already (which is not necessarily a bad thing – to me that is).

And oh, if you don’t already know, you might want to read the comments – I certainly didn’t know until I was told, haha!


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Chris@bookarama
    Dec 07, 2007 @ 01:00:23

    I saw this a little while ago. It’s actually a hoax…err…publicity stunt by the Lemony Snickett publicists. I thought it was in poor taste considering all the latest book banning attempts lately. I guess any publicity is good publicity (???)

    Here’s where I found out:


    nylusmilk: oooh, thanks for letting me know; i’ve been hoaxed! haha… i’m sure there are parents out there who would make a happy endings foundation though if given their way.


  2. lovelyloey
    Dec 07, 2007 @ 08:02:16

    Oh so we should hang all criminals big or small because they have gone “Bad”? If children don’t know how to read without believing wholeheartedly in fiction, then jolly well teach them, not hide them from the “bad books”.

    nylusmilk: haha, if such a foundation exists in the first place! 😉 but hypothetically, yeah, it’s not good to shield children from bad endings… while we don’t want them to grow up cynical (not that soon, anyway 😛 ) i don’t think bad endings make children disillusioned, but rather it helps them cope in life when they relate their bad experiences to things they might have read about.


  3. myglitch
    Dec 07, 2007 @ 16:07:11

    Whether its bad or happy endings, we as parents should monitor the books our children read. Its the author decision, right? I can’t believe that there’s such foundation, they’re making their children closed their eyes to reality.

    Anyway, thanks for dropping by to my site. I love your site, I seldom found bookworm blogs.

    nylusmilk: well, the reality that is found in books. 😉 thank you; there are actually a lot around really, just a matter of stumbling across them!


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    Feb 06, 2013 @ 23:42:05

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