My 9-year-old’s class was assigned to read a historical fiction novel, and Rose chose the Dear America book “When Will This Cruel War Be Over? The Civil War Diary of Emma Simpson, Gordonsville, Virginia 1864.”
The book was pretty depressing (as the Civil War tends to be!). Loads of people died including a baby, soldiers and the young girl’s brother, mother and father. Soldiers had their legs amputated. Her cousin had a nervous breakdown. The Yankees robbed and occupied houses. Some slaves murdered their master and then hung him on a tree (because he used to beat them).
The whole time we were reading the Dear America book I kept thinking Rose would have a more clear picture of the South during the Civil War if she watched “Gone With the Wind.” (It’s much too large for her to read at this point.)
However, there are definitely a lot of questionable scenes in it – the bloody recovering scenes where all the bodies fill the train yard, the hospital with the screaming during an amputation, the murder of the Union soldier when he invades Scarlett’s house, the attack on Scarlett’s carriage and the attack on the shanty town after. I don’t think there are any slaves being whipped or beaten in “Gone with the Wind.” (I have a vague recollection of watching “Roots” with my parents and seeing a slave being whipped. I found it very upsetting!) I forgot Belle Watling’s house of ill-repute, although I don’t think Rose would figure out what it is.
So is 9 too young to introduce a child to “Gone with the Wind?” What is an appropriate age to watch the movie? (I remember Michael’s sister visiting us and she had never seen it before. It was on one of the Turner stations, and she was just mesmerized. But she was probably 12 or 13 at the time.)
Is “Gone with the Wind” part of the book or film history of the South that you will introduce to your kids?
What films or books do you think give an accurate portrayal of the South during the Civil War that would be appropriate to share with a 9 or 10 year old?
(Along these same lines how do we feel about the book or movie version of “Anne Frank: The Diary of Young Girl?” I read it in middle school. I don’t remember a lot of Nazi violence, just them living in fear. The end was pretty upsetting though.)