Archive for September 2010

Banned Books Week

September 28, 2010

Happy Banned Books Week!  Yes, it’s that wonderful time of year again when the American Library Association protests the banning of books from libraries and schools.  Join in the festivities, which started on the 25th and runs through Saturday.  That’s right, it’s actually Banned Books Week And A Day this year because we can’t protest the morality being forced on literature in just one week.

Personally, I’m against banning and restricting access to books… in most cases.  That being said, I don’t think Sex by Madonna needs to be in any high school library.  I believe that there is a place for Lolita by Vladmir Nabokov in the library, but it definitely does not belong in the children’s section.  There are many, many books that I would never read, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think others shouldn’t be able to read them.  Just about everything should be offered for reading if it exists.  (That sounds a little Google-y, but I stand by it.)

The real question is, where should the line be drawn when it comes to age-appropriateness.  The Hobbit is too violent for my 10-year old, but it’s fine for yours.  1984 has sex.  Of Mice And Men has cursing.  Harry Potter has witchcraft.  There are books in the romance section with all of those!  Should a 7th Grader be reading those romance novels.  The answer is obviously no, otherwise the middle school library would have its own romance section instead of the Judy Bloom section.  (On a side note, why is it that since the 1984 comment, I can’t stop typing “sextion” by accident?) 

That’s the reason why I say that books should not be banned or restricted in most cases.  No elementary school kid should see Playboy Magazine on the newspaper and magazine rack in the school library.  The poor girls are already getting distorted ideas about body image from the television and Katy Perry without having to see the full monty!  Obviously censorship is needed in cases of the youth of the country.  Very few would disagree with that – and those would be the same ones trying to take their 6-year olds to see Saw 3D at midnight on Halloween night.  The difficult issue is how to accurately, fairly and respectfully decide what books we permit our young people to read without our specific knowledge, and that’s an issue I don’t have any answers on.

While I try to figure that out, feel free to protest at your local public library if they don’t have Animal Farm in the catalogue, because everyone should read Animal Farm, although perhaps not in kindergarten.