Katie’s Unsolicited Opinions on Banned Books Week

September 29, 2015 Banned Books 16

Greetings Bookworms!

It’s Banned Books Week, one of my favorite times of the year. It’s always great fun to discuss the reasons people have for writing to their local libraries and/or children’s schools to complain about the reading material. Objections are almost universally tied to what is and isn’t appropriate for children and teenagers. As a non parent, I should probably keep my mouth shut. The last thing I want to do is play into the Mommy Wars. However, this subject gets me all fired up. I’ve listed some of the popular reasons people challenge books… And my rebuttals.

  1. Offensive Language: Profanity is always high on the list of reasons books are challenged. Here’s the thing. The words exist. Kids hear them. If they’re in school they DEFINITELY hear them. A lot. Kids love saying bad words. It’s a safe little rebellion for them. Be glad they’re swearing and not shooting heroin. Perspective.
  2. Satanic/Occult Material: You guys. Harry Potter is not your enemy. I repeat: Harry Potter IS NOT YOUR ENEMY.
  3. Sexually Explicit: Teenagers are curious and hormonal. A book is a great way for them to explore the complexities of sexuality with ZERO RISK of getting pregnant or contracting a disease. Your teen is either going to have sex or they’re not. I can virtually guarantee that reading a book isn’t going to change their position on that one way or another. I mean, you remember being a teenager. You had a brain in your head. You weren’t THAT malleable.
  4. Homosexuality: Regardless of your feelings on homosexuality, gay people exist. They’re not going to magically disappear, and they’re legally allowed to marry in the US. Being gay isn’t contagious. Your kid is going to be gay or they aren’t. A book isn’t going to change that. And for the love of all that’s holy, if your heart doesn’t break into a thousand pieces reading about a pair of male penguins trying to hatch a rock, I don’t think you’re doing compassion right.
  5. Drugs/Alcohol/Smoking: I’ve read a good number of young adult novels. A lot of them depict drug use, alcohol use, and/or smoking. I’ve yet to read one that glorifies any of these things, but I’ve read a ton of cautionary tales. Seriously. These books are way more likely to expose the dangers and consequences of substance abuse than to glorify them. And again. A book isn’t going to pour booze down your kid’s throat. Really. A book doesn’t have arms.

What’s the moral of this post? A book isn’t going to undo your parenting. At most it will open the door for discussions on complicated subjects, during which you, as the parental unit can re-instill whatever values you’ve been trying to teach. You have a much bigger impact on your kid’s behavior than any book could. Exposure to different lifestyles, opinions, and circumstances will only help turn your kid into a well rounded adult ready to face the world. Now. Go forth and read all the things. And let your kids read them too.

Alright Bookworms, sound off. Is this post thoroughly smug? If I ever have children will I someday eat my words? 

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16 Responses to “Katie’s Unsolicited Opinions on Banned Books Week”

  1. Megan M.

    I love you Katie! I agree with you 1000%! Reading books like “Smack” by Melvin Burgess only reinforced that I never, EVER wanted to do drugs. Ever. And I just can’t even with people that object to magic/Harry Potter. I mean, what?! It’s not real, you guys.

    • Words For Worms

      Seriously!!! The magic in HP is so wholesome, and it’s never like “oh you should try this at home” because you CAN’T, you’re a MUGGLE and I’m sorry but you just are, okay? (And thank you for agreeing with me, you lovely Mother of 3, now I feel more legit in my claims!)

  2. Charleen

    As a mom of an almost-six-month-old, my views haven’t changed from my pre-parenting days. It’s hard to imagine taking a book away from my kid because I think it’s inappropriate… but who knows, it could happen.

    But the one thing I just can’t change my mind on: if I do decide a book isn’t right for my kid, that doesn’t mean I get to push my values on all kids, and if you decide a book isn’t right for your kid, don’t try to take it away from other kids. (And if declaring I’ll never change my mind on that makes me small-minded on this issue, so be it.)

    I’ll also add that, if there’s ever a successful challenge over any books in my kid’s curriculum, I’ll probably go out and buy him a copy myself, so we can both read it, and talk about why it was on the curriculum in the first place, and why some people thought it shouldn’t be.

    • Words For Worms

      I love love love your stance on this. I think it’s awesome that you’d seek out a challenged book and have a chat about it. I think you’re doing motherhood right, girl! (Even if it’s only been 6 months. He’s really cute.)

      • Charleen

        Of course there’s the possibility that my being so eager to read and discuss would completely override any excitement over reading something “forbidden.” I guess I have a few years to figure out how to make it not sound like extra homework.

  3. Sarah's Book Shelves

    My kids hear plenty of cuss words while riding in a car with me (and they tell me I’m “not supposed to say that” every time)! Might as well add some more into their reading – ha!

  4. Akilah

    If you ever have children, you will eat your words regarding a lot of things. I doubt very seriously that banned books will be one of them. My daughter hears my rants about the subject every time a new challenge crops up.

    • Words For Worms

      LOL I think you’re probably right. That’s one of the reasons I try so hard to keep my mouth shut (especially publicly) regarding parenting stuff. At least I’m wise enough to know I don’t actually know anything, right? Good to know my stance on books is unlikely to change, though.

  5. Samantha

    I think that one of the best things my parents did was never restrict what I read. There were books that I thought they might not want me to read (like Harry Potter at the time), but they never really said as much if I remember correctly. My parents also aren’t readers, so they really trusted that I was reading things that were okay for me because they definitely weren’t screening things ahead of time. I feel like it made me a better human being because of it because I’m not afraid of certain things. I could also have been a self-described goody-two-shoes as a kid, so obviously reading about “harmful” things didn’t drive me to do them.

  6. Melinda

    I find the arguments used when trying to ban a book ridiculous. I’ve read a number of challenged books and realized that these are precisely the books I want my kids to read when they’re older!

  7. Jenny @ Reading the End

    Not to mention that kids nowadays have THE INTERNET, which has all of those categories of content right at their fingertips, and the internet defies all controls. So.

    Oh, AND I will add that other kids at school talk about all of these things and say completely insane things about them, and as a parent you for sure cannot prevent that, and it’s way worse and insaner than anything I ever read in a book.

  8. Michelle

    Well done! People get upset about the silliest things when you put them into such black-and-white phrases. Cursing in books is not going to prevent your child from using those words. In fact, I guarantee that anything they read in a book is nowhere near as offensive as what they actually hear in school. As for sex? I have always had open and honest discussions about sex with my kids at very young ages, so that again, anything they read will not be shocking but will give them a different perspective. Plus, they know and do talk to me about such things. Banning books with sex in them just adds a stigma to the act that entices kids to want to try it as an act of rebellion.

Talk to me, Bookworms!

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