Banned Books Week
Shining a light on the books that are challenged and/or removed from school and public libraries across the country is so important. It happens nationwide. It happens where you'd least expect it. It happens under the 'think of the children' brigade of well meaning people. It happens. And it shouldn't.
People who are shocked by content in books are often instinctively driven to shield others from that shock. It's understandable. What parents in particular fail to grasp is that not everyone is the same. A cutting scene in a YA book may seem graphic and gratuitous to someone. For a child who cuts herself, it may help her feel less alone. Reading a book that shows kids doing objectionable things isn't going to drive a kid to imitate. It might open eyes and hearts and allow a little empathy to shine through towards that troubled child who does those things. Having books that show the ugliness of racism and bigotry is important, too. So are books about blended families. About homosexuality. About domestic violence. Because those situations and children are in our schools. They are in our communities.
The most frequent challenges are often based on sex and foul language. I find this one especially hilarious, because often those same parents are perfectly fine with that content in movies. But even if they're still restricting their kids to G rated movies at 13, kids will be exposed to that kind of content by living life, by listening to their peers, by being...a teen.
Bottom line: You can absolutely decide what's appropriate for your child. Sheltering them from the "harsh realities" of life is your right as a parent. But you're also sheltering them from being empathetic. From being able to understand those who different from themselves. And you are NOT allowed to make decisions for what is appropriate for my child. That's what intellectual freedom is all about: choosing what you want to read and letting others do the same.