Banning books doesn't stop reading them.

By the time I was twelve, I'd read through most of the children's room books in our small library. I wanted to read Gone with the Wind. The head librarian actually called my grandmother to see if it was all right for me to check it out. (Of course, she said yes!) I don't recall it being particularly racy - but I did love it! And, even if I hadn't been allowed to check it out, I would've spent some time in the stacks reading it!

Banning books isn't going to stop them from being read. If you want to read a banned book, it would be nearly impossible to NOT find it. And, if you find it - you're going to read it!

Fear is the motivation behind book banning. With parents in particular - the fear of losing control over their children. Well... as a parent with grown children, I can categorically state - you will eventually lose control! And, those children will have their own ideas, they'll make up their own minds, and they will live their own lives. However, if you want to be a part of that process - reading these books alongside your children & discussing the ideas found within will do more to cultivate understanding and to forward the education and enlightenment of our kids.

Book banning - I'm agin' it!


Mandy P.S. said...

I think it's awesome that the head librarian was proactive enough to call your grandmother to check and see if it was ok, because honestly I think there is a difference between "banning" a book and making sure a book is age appropriate.

Granted, these kinds of things get sticky when we're taking the books off the shelves in school libraries (who decides? what's "appropriate"? etc, etc). But I read my first sex scene at the age of nine from a book I checked out from my fifth grade school's library. (Yes, it was a school just for fifth graders). I was traumatized. (Granted, it probably wasn't that graphic, but remember I was NINE.) I almost stopped reading all together because books were suddenly unsafe. I couldn't trust them anymore. How was I supposed to know what books were ok and what books weren't? Heck, if I couldn't trust the library at a fifth grade only school to be age appropriate how could I trust any groups of books ever again?

Yes, I thought way too much as a kid.

Lucky for me I stumbled upon Star Wars books which were all PG-13 and previously read by my uncle who gave it the age appropriate thumbs up of approval. Star Wars held me over until seventh grade when I was a little more mature and able to handle most adult books.

But that's why I think we need to be careful. Yes, kids are always going to read. But that doesn't mean you should be ok with your ten year old reading "A Game of Thrones" even if they do read on a college level in the fifth grade.

Josin L. McQuein said...

I keep saying this, but people who ban books do so because they realize they can't control their kids once they're out the door. They fear that their kids might go ahead and do that thing they're not allowed to do at home, so "that thing" must be removed to make sure the kids follow orders.

If you think removing a book from a library is going to keep your kid from finding it online, you're delusional.

Julia said...

Bittersweet - I totally agree with you about age-appropriate reading! I know I was shocked by a book I picked up when I was way too young to see it!

And, yes, Josin - if a kid wants to read a book, they'll figure out how to!

Karis Jacobstein said...

Parents need to take responsibility for what their children are reading. If my ten year old brings home a book that I'm unfamiliar with, I take a few minutes to go online to check it out. There are loads of resources for doing just that and it makes me ill that people want to pawn parental responsibility off on schools and libraries. I've told my daughter (who reads on a college level) more times than I can count that she's not ready for a book. If I can't find enough trusted info, I read it myself.

I also trust her judgement. If a kid isn't ready for content emotionally, they will put the nook down because they won't find it interesting. For example, Emma has been begging to read Twilight since second grade. Finally this past summer I said, "Fine. Read the first book.". She got half through and put it down; not because she wasn't capable of reading it, but because she couldn't relate at ten years old. I tend to give kids credit though... parents who think their twelve year old is going to be scarred for like because a book has f-bombs or sex in it is delusional.

In the end, the responsibily is on the parents. If a library places a book in the area in which it is marketed, there is no room for argument (if, say, A Clockwork Orange were in an elementary school library I would have a problem, but And Tango Makes Three? Ludicrous.). As far as high school libraries are concerned, just about anything should fly. Any parent who allows their kid to watch R-rated of even PG-13 movies has no business challenging a high school book, and if they don't, I guess they should be doing what I do with my ten year old.

Ami said...

Bittersweet and Julia - how many girls got an 'education' when Judy Blume's first adult novel came out? Countless adults said, "Oh, it's a Judy Blume book, here, honey," without realizing the content:)

Nobody should ever be deciding what someone else's kids can or cannot read. It is my job and right as a parent to be as restrictive or open as I see fit, and my responsibility to be aware of what my - not your - kid is reading.

At the same time, it helps me as a parent if I have all the info. If a librarian hears me say to my 9yo, "Oh look, honey, another Judy Blume book," I would appreciate it if she gave me a quick heads-up! Some of my patrons, who I know well, don't want their kids reading certain things, and because I KNOW that, I will sometimes mention content to them that isn't obvious by book description. I don't do that with patrons I don't know, unless asked.

Unknown said...

I think the whole idea of book banning is bizarre. I still remember the fact that my dad said he only owed 'Lady Chatterley's Lover' because it was banned! I think banning something, especially from teens, is actually a sure way to make them want to read it (so perhaps it's good in the sense that it gets kids to want to read?).

Julia said...

Great comments, everyone! Thanks so much for joining the conversation!

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