Banned Books: One Parent's Perspective

Okay, so there's been a lot of talk this week about banned books, not only here on the League, but everywhere.

This is a hard topic for me, and I'll tell you why. I'm apathetic. I know, some of you are going to hammer me in the comments. How can you be an author and be apathetic about this? Don't you believe in having books available for everyone?

I do. I also believe that parents have the right to choose what media comes into their homes and is viewed by their minor children. I believe we live in a country where some people have louder voices than others, and sometimes those people get laws changed, or acts passed, or books banned.

Those people aren't horrible, awful people. They're people who believe they're doing what's right to protect their children.

Does it mean I support them?

Not really. I want to be able to choose for myself and for my children, so I automatically balk at someone telling me that a book is "bad" for whatever reason. I want to decide for myself.

Does it mean I don't support them?

Again, not really. I want to be able to ban anything from my house that I don't deem appropriate for me and my children.

Basically, I don't want anyone telling me what to like or not like, what to believe or not believe, and what to read or not read.

I know this is 2009's BBW poster. But it's my favorite one.
I support Banned Books Week as outlined in the ALA's Office of Intellectual Freedom: Banned Books Week (BBW) celebrates the freedom to choose and the freedom to express one's opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular, stressing the importance of ensuring the availability of those viewpoints to all who wish to read them. It is sponsored by the American Booksellers Association, the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the American Library Association (ALA), the Association of American Publishers, the American Society of Journalists and Authors and the National Association of College Stores. It is endorsed by the Library of Congress' Center for the Book.

While some books I read I don't particularly like (for whatever reason) and I don't let my still-maturing children read, that doesn't mean I want to eliminate the choice for everyone.

I want everyone to have the ability to choose what they should read, and what they should provide for their children to read. To me, that's what Banned Books Week does.

I know not everyone thinks the way I do. They do ban books. To me, it's simply because they have a louder voice than I do, and need to be heard. Also--it's their right to exercise. If they don't want to read a book, so be it. If they don't want their children to be exposed to that book, that's their choice too.

But as a reader and a parent, I can still choose to read and provide books for my children.

What do you think? Have I missed the mark of Banned Books Week?


Matthew MacNish said...

Of course every parent has the right to not allow a book into their home, but that's not banning. Banning is when they tell me I can't allow the book in my home (or the local library), because they think it's bad.

That's not okay with me.

Ava Jae said...

I agree. I think we should have the choice to decide for ourselves what's appropriate to read (and what's appropriate for our loved ones to read). No one needs to do that for us.

Emily said...

Yes. I agree. We have a choice. I have read many YA books that I have put on 'hold' for my daughter until she gets older. Having said that, she has read a lot of YA books that some people might consider too old for an eleven-year-old and she's handled them just fine.

I do not support banning books or censorship of any kind. I do, however, support parent and student's individual rights to 'opt out' of required reading if they feel it isn't appropriate for them.

Tere Kirkland said...

Actually, I think you're just getting down to the true meaning of Banned Book Week. There wouldn't need to be a week illuminating banned books if parents would make choices for their own children, and be more apathetic toward what others are allowing their kids to read. There is no "one size fits all" solution.

Every family is different, and wants their kids to be exposed to different things. But it should be a personal choice, not one that should be pushed on other families and their children.

Donna K. Weaver said...

It's just like when we choose not to watch certain things on TV. We change the channel or we turn the dang thing off. We don't decide for someone else. Agency's a hard to allow others sometimes.

Dan Wells wrote a wonderful post about it here:

Erinn said...

As a teacher, mother, writer and reader I feel the same way. I've been avoiding the topic for years. I completely understand what your saying and thank you for saying it!

Karen Adair said...

Ditto. My kids and I talk about books and decide whether or not the book is right for them. We know our children pretty well, so who better than to help them choose? I wouldn't have chosen for them to read some books that their school mandated they read, but we merely took the opportunity to talk to our children about the controversial nature. That's where a lot of the learning can come in. Mixing our moral values in with whatever the school is offering will balance the child's experience and help them come away with the best reading of the book possible. So yeah, parental involvement does more than dictate our children's involves us in them. Go figure.