Handy Tip for Parents Teaching Twain

29 Jan 2008


If you're a parent, you'll no doubt want to expose your younger children (say, 7 or 8 year olds) to Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn at some point. However, when reading these lively tales out loud, you're going to run up against a touchy issue: The text includes the "n" word about 600,000 times.

For many reasons, parents based north of the Mason-Dixon line may not want to expose kids to this word at such a tender age. It's not that you're going to permanently shield your children from our language and history; rather, it's just not the right time when they're so young. So, what do you do?

Well, there's no need to throw the baby out with the muddy Mississippi bathwater, Here's a handy tip for reading Twain to your young children: Replace the word "n" word with "helper." Not only is the cadence largely unaffected, but the general meaning (in the context of 19th century America) fits as well. For example:

Jim was monstrous proud about it, and he got so he wouldn't hardly notice the other HELPERS. HELPERS would come miles to hear Jim tell about it, and he was more looked up to than any HELPER in that country. Strange HELPERs would stand with their mouths open and look him all over, same as if he was a wonder. HELPERS is always talking about witches in the dark by the kitchen fire; but whenever one was talking and letting on to know all about such things, Jim would happen in and say, "Hm! What you know 'bout witches?" and that HELPER was corked up and had to take a back seat.

I know, I know ... You're welcome.

Original Comments

Below, are the original comments on this post. Additional comments may be made via Facebook, below.

On January 29, 2008, Chris wrote:

That sure puts a spin on Hamburger Helper ;)

On January 29, 2008, Chris wrote:

PS: What would Uncle Charlton think of your recommendation? :o

On January 29, 2008, Wren wrote:


On February 4, 2008, nothere wrote:

"helper" for "slave"? What a sugar coated turd!

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