I'm currently reading Frankensteinfor my book club. As Roberto has pointed out before, one can learn a lot from this novel. In fact, one can learn a lot even before getting to the creation of the monster. I was struck by this passage in chapter 2:
Natural philosophy is the genius that has regulated my fate; I desire, therefore, in this narration, to state those facts which led to my predilection for that science. When I was thirteen years of age, we all went on a party of pleasure to the baths near Thonon: the inclemency of the weather obliged us to remain a day confined to the inn. In this house I chanced to find a volume of the works of Cornelius Agrippa. I opened it with apathy; the theory which he attempts to demonstrate, and the wonderful facts which he relates, soon changed this feeling into enthusiasm. A new light seemed to dawn upon my mind; and, bounding with joy, I communicated my discovery to my father. My father looked carelessly at the title page of my book, and said, "Ah! Cornelius Agrippa! My dear Victor, do not waste your time upon this; it is sad trash."
If, instead of this remark, my father had taken the pains to explain to me that the principles of Agrippa had been entirely exploded, and that a modern system of science had been introduced, which possessed much greater powers than the ancient, because the powers of the latter were chimerical, while those of the former were real and practical; under such circumstances, I should certainly have thrown Agrippa aside, and have contented my imagination, warmed as it was, by returning with greater ardour to my former studies. It is even possible that the train of my ideas would never have received the fatal impulse that led to my ruin. But the cursory glance my father had taken of my volume by no means assured me that he was acquainted with its contents; and I continued to read with the greatest avidity.
We may not have a lot of young people nowadays who are into Cornelius Agrippa (who?), but there's an important principle at work here. We hear this sort of thing all the time about Christian parents, education, and pastors who create forbidden fruit, only to see kids go chasing eagerly after it. (Remember this Katy Perry quote?)
Of course, a lot of the "fruit" that's out there is so poisonous and rotten that it should be forbidden. But it seems to me that, in order to avoid a backlash, this should be done in thoughtful, well-reasoned ways, not in a kneejerk way that makes kids think we have no idea what we're talking about.