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Girl Ordered to Stop Reading on the Bus Because "She Might Poke Herself in the Eye"

8517996410_be3f1b9928_bA Canadian bus driver has starter a one person campaign to save the next generation from becoming a bunch of eyepatch wearing book lovers.

The CBC reports:

An eight-year-old girl in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que. was told she’s no longer allowed to read books on the school bus because it poses a risk to the safety of other students.

Sarah Auger loves reading and used to enjoy using her 20-minute ride to and from school to read for pleasure.

But recently, her bus driver told her she had to stop. She says she was told reading posed a risk to other students on the bus.

He suggested they might stand up to see what she was reading, or she might poke herself in the eye with the corners of the book.

Yes, a child may be smart enough to read, but the bus driver thinks she’s not smart enough to know How Not To Put Her Eye Out.

I can’t speak for you but I for one would like to know exactly what that bus driver does with books that blinding yourself is a possible outcome. (I know that we sometimes joke about certain booklovers having a book fetish, but I always thought that was hyperbole.)

Do you suppose that bus driver grew up in an area with "urban" librarians – ones who would throw a book at you rather than simply hand it to you? That could explain the bus driver’s concern.

While I will admit to having sometimes injured myself when reading and walking, those injuries were caused by walking into trees, signs, furniture, and people, and not from the book itself.

Aside from the time I dropped the three-volume boxed set of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire on my foot, the worst injury I’ve ever gotten from a book was a paper cut.

Are books really that dangerous? Did I miss something?

image by SimiWriter

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Jan April 23, 2015 um 12:56 pm

I think they have a general rule that the students have to keep all personal items stowed in their backpacks for safety. I can understand that. But on the other hand, I always thought that school should be training for life. I take the bus home from work most days and really look forward to a little extra reading time. Many of the other riders are also reading. Are we living on the wild side? Are we in immanent danger of book-related injuries? No, we’re just all relaxing with a good book at the end of the day. That little girl was just relaxing, too. I say, let her be.

Nate Hoffelder April 23, 2015 um 1:23 pm

I would bet that the rule about keeping personal items stowed has more to do with preventing loss/theft than safety.

The reason I don’t believe the safety excuse is that a book would only be dangerous in a situation where someone (either the bus driver or another driver) is already driving in an unsafe manner. That is such a low probability as to be not worth worrying about.

neuse river sailor April 23, 2015 um 1:47 pm

The child is smart enough to read but I seriously doubt the bus driver is. Typical authority figure throwing his weight (which is probably substantial) around, and typical gutless, mealy-mouthed administrator.

The journalist who reported this story for CBC should have given the bus driver a chance to tell his side of the story and then outed him by name.

oidfuh April 23, 2015 um 2:02 pm

This has to rank highly among the candidates for the most ridiculous thing I have read in a while.

Nate Hoffelder April 23, 2015 um 6:20 pm

Sadly, I have to follow this type of news, and it’s really not the worst thing I’ve read.

fahirsch April 23, 2015 um 2:22 pm

I think it’s a good rule: little girls that read and are left alone will grow up to be women that think. We can’t have that! Trouble must be cut at the begining

Nate Hoffelder April 23, 2015 um 2:29 pm

That would be unsafe, yes.

puzzled April 23, 2015 um 7:54 pm

It is entirely possible that, in today’s litigious world, some student threw a book at another student on the bus, causing some level of ocular damage, and sued the school district, thereby leading to the banning of un-encumbered books on the bus.

Clearly I missed the lesson on run-on sentences…

Michelle Louring April 24, 2015 um 7:11 am

Ridiculous issue aside, this article put a smile on my face!
I wonder if it would be okay for her to read on an ereader or if there would be an imminent danger of being electrocuted?

Steve Vernon April 24, 2015 um 7:41 am

Makes me embarrassed to be a Canadian – still, I always wonder whenever I read something like this if we are actually hearing the WHOLE story or not. Might be the bus driver was an old fart and was making a dry wisecrack. A lot of old-school sarcasm is lost on today’s if-you-don’t-say-fart-its-not-a-jok culture.

It might be the kid was acting out some other way.

Then again, maybe the bus driver is a world class champion asshole.

I don’t know for sure.

I do know that I have riding the bus here in Halifax for about forty years – and I read through most of my bus rides – and I have YET to poke myself in the eye.

Maybe tomorrow…

Let me work on it.

Thomas April 24, 2015 um 4:39 pm

The truly bizarre part of this story is that the local school board backed up the bus driver while simultaneously saying, "Obviously, reading is not dangerous."

LS April 25, 2015 um 7:32 pm

I’m still shaking my head at this one. I used to read 2hrs a day on my school bus & never managed to injure myself. Shockingly if one of the other kids wanted to know what I was reading they just asked me.

Diana April 26, 2015 um 7:51 am

When I was a child and rode the bus:
1. We had no seat belts. Ever.
2. Sometimes it was so crowded we sat 3 or 4 to a seat and
3. Had people standing in the aisles. (Middle School)

This happened for YEARS.

ucfgrad93 April 27, 2015 um 3:18 pm

Nice to see the nanny state alive and well up in Canada.

Dangerous books? | Making Book May 5, 2015 um 10:19 am

[…] now things are getting dicey. Ink, Bits, & Pixels tells us of the girl who was forbidden to read on the bus in case she put her eye out. The bus […]

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