When a book is banned and not allowed in schools or even the library, it can make the avid reader even more eager to hunt down a copy for themselves to see what all the hype is about. In this day and age, it’s very easy for many to get their hands on those books, whether it’s e-books that can be borrowed or purchased online or physical copies that can be picked up at the local book store. Personally, there was only one book my mother forbid me to read, Flowers in the Attic. I found a copy for 10 cents at a yard sale (sans the cover…) which I picked up and read without my folks ever knowing. At the time, I didn’t see what the big deal was. Sure there was some adult themes: incest, murder, etc.but I understood it was just fiction and not a real story. As an adult I can see why my mother found it so awful. How could a mother, fictional or not, do such an awful thing to her kids?
Adults can see topics in a different light than someone who is younger. While they might see Harry Potter as promoting witchcraft, a teen reader sees a coming of age, fantastical story that just happens to include some cool magic stuff. While they might wish they could be like Harry, I doubt they’re running out looking for their own owls and books on how to become a wizard.
I do think it’s important to know what your kids are reading and if the themes are currently too mature for them, but to broadly ban books is only going to push the avid reader to find some way to get their hands on it. In the day and age of internet, video games and phones that do just about anything, be happy your child/teen is still picking up books and wants to throw themselves into worlds they have to imagine on their own.
What are your thoughts on banned books?
Even though the week is ending, I wanted to make sure I did a post on Banned Books Week. I think you’d be surprised at some of the books that make the lists around the country.
Some of the most challenged books of this past year?
Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey
Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group
The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini.
Reasons: Homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit
Looking for Alaska
, by John Green.
Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group
Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
Reasons: Unsuited for age group, violence
The Glass Castle, by Jeanette Walls
Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit
Beloved, by Toni Morrison Reasons: Sexually explicit, religious viewpoint, violence
Looking for Alaska is one of my all time favorite books and I think a great read for teens as well as The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian which I think is an especially important read with the amount of bullying that is going on these days. Also typically showing up on banned book lists are the Harry Potter books, To Kill a Mockingbird and Lord of the Flies. All books I grew up on (okay…so I was an adult when Potter stuff came out, but still…).
Great literature shouldn’t be kept from enthusiastic readers. If you feel your child is not mature enough for the content, then hold off on letting them read it, but don’t go about trying to get it banned. I feel strongly that parents should read what they’re kids are reading (or want to read) and make the decision on whether or not it’s appropriate for their own children, but what gives anyone the right to say what is or isn’t good for someone else’s child? I was reading Gone with the Wind and Stephan King books by the time I was in 6th grade (I even dressed as Mammy for Halloween that year!).
Some kids can handle the topics and they *are* important topics for young adults. If you think, by keeping your kid from reading certain books that you’re sheltering them from bad things in the world, I think you’ll be sad to find out they already know about such things.
Encourage your kids to read and if there are difficult topics, open a discussion with them and remind them that while many of the situations can be happening to people all over the world, it is still a work of fiction. Remind them that things work out the way they do because the author makes it so.
Don’t keep them from amazing, touching, powerful stories because you think they don’t know about sex or violence or other hurtful things going on in the world. Better they learn it through a world of fiction than real life experiences. Some of these stories could help them learn warning signs and to not be so naive when they get into the real world. Banning them would be doing a disservice to many.
What are your thoughts on banning books? Does it serve a purpose or should parents be more involved in what their kids read and ask them to hold off on certain books until they’re older?