Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Banned Books Week

I talk about this every year, so some of you will be familiar with my stance.  It's fine to not read a book.  It's fine to feel a book is not or not yet appropriate for your child.  Where I get sniffy is when you decide no one who relies on that library should be able to read that book.  I've read problematic books.  I've even read problematic books this year.  I certainly share my concerns with people.  But here's the thing, other people might find something in that book.  And that's fine too.  Goodness knows, I adore some stuff that is problematic.  Stuff that I even can fully see the problems.  And yet, I still love. 
I heard an author at the Baltimore Book Festival talking about how they wished people had to read every book they wanted removed first, so they couldn't just tag everything that had a witch or they had heard might contain sex.  And yes.  Now, looking at this year's list, I can see at least some of the featured books were read far enough to find the offensive word or act.  I confess the expressed concern about Hop on Pop encouraging violence seemed unusual to me.  And scrolling through that list, some of those books might contain legitimately harmful depictions or stereotypes, and that's something that libraries and schools can certainly consider.  I did find the idea that students can now google references and discover the true depths of Brave New World fascinating since it implies that they previously thought the English teacher was just letting that all go over the students heads.  (My English teacher certainly would have asked us about those.)
Read.  Read widely.  If you find something inappropriate or problematic, talk to people about it, including your librarian.  But please consider, that it might be providing something to others.