Monday, September 22, 2014

Banned Books Week

It's Banned Books Week.  And once again, I want to say, I love books, I love reading, I think everyone should do more.  I respect any parent's right to monitor their child's reading habits. Where I become concerned is when parents (because most of this comes from parents) decide that material carefully selected by a librarian with knowledge of the community should not be available to anyone.  Certainly, material in elementary school libraries will have some differences from college or public libraries.  But your child may or may not be ready for something another child is.  And well, if your argument is that this book shouldn't exist at all, then I cannot agree.  I certainly don't like everything I read.  I sometimes want my money, time, or brain space back.  I sometimes vibrate with rage over something stupid or offensive I read in a book. But that doesn't mean that book might not speak to someone else very differently.  And hey, that's the way the world works.
I also find it fascinating that parents think reading books that are "bad" or "racist" or "stereotypical" or that depict sex or violence couldn't be excellent discussion points.  At some point, part of the process is recognizing that the world contains lots of things you either don't want your kid to ever do, or don't want them to do yet.  No one ever objects to kids reading about driving or voting before they hit they age we have deemed it appropriate for them to do so. I read Huck Finn very young and managed not to run away on a riverboat or use language that is not appropriate for use in today's conversations. 
I personally think the idiots in Wuthering Heights needed a good talking to, but other people love their yearning.  I'm not mad I had to read the book. 
This year I was thrilled to see several examples of kids making use of social and other media to object to books being pulled from their library or their curriculum.  I wish they didn't have to fight these fights at all, but at least they are learning how to fight for themselves.