Musings From A Bookmammal

Musing Mondays–Thoughts About Banned Books Week

21 Comments

Click here to play along!

Click here to play along!

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme that asks you to muse about one of several “bookish” questions… or, you can just ramble on about anything you like that pertains to books! You can join in by clicking the graphic above. Go ahead–it’s fun!

Here’s my Musing Mondays ramble for this week:

Click above to visit the ALA Banned Books site.

To learn more, click above to visit the American Library Association website.

Banned Books Week is Sept. 22-28 this year, and banning/challenging books can be a hot-button issue for a lot of folks. Here’s a brief description of the purpose of Banned Books Week from the ALA website:

“Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community –- librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types –- in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular. By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship. While books have been and continue to be banned, part of the Banned Books Week celebration is the fact that, in a majority of cases, these books have remained available. This happens only thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, students, and community members who stand up and speak out for the freedom to read.”

So that’s the background. You can find a list of frequently challenged books here–as well as the reasons for the challenges.

Here’s my take:

I believe that parents ABSOLUTELY have the right and the responsibility to monitor and guide their children’s reading. This means different things to different people.

Some parents want their kids to be “free range readers”—kids who are encouraged to read anything and everything they can get their hands on. Other parents set limits on the materials and subject matter that their kids are allowed to read—because of their child’s age/maturity, for philosophical, educational, religious, or moral reasons, or other factors.  And lots and lots of parents fall somewhere in between.

Kids-Who-Love-BooksPart of parenting is knowing what your kids are doing–including being aware of the books they’re reading—and putting limits and consequences in place that make sense for your family. This includes any restrictions that parents feel are needed regarding books read by their children. And along with that, in my opinion, is helping your kids become  responsible citizens by helping them learn to make smart reading choices. That’s about teaching kids to acknowledge new ideas that they encounter in books. It’s about helping kids understand that they may not always agree with or believe in what they read. And it’s about helping children learn to accept the existence of differing opinions and choices they read about without necessarily taking them on as their own.

This isn’t always easy. But part of the responsibility of every parent is taking charge of raising their children in the manner that they see fit–whether or not they agree with or incorporate ideas such as the ones I’ve listed above.

The key words here are THEIR CHILDREN.

When parents try to control the books that can–and can’t–be found in public community libraries, public school libraries, and in public book stores, they’re trying to control the reading behaviors of ALL CHILDREN. By removing a book from public bookshelves, they’re taking away choices for all.  They are, in effect, trying to parent other parents’  children. And that, to me, is not OK.

To parents who have different ideas than my own about what THEIR kids can and can’t read, I say more power to you. Your house, your kids—your rules.  I may not agree with you, but I will tirelessly defend your right to parent your kids in the way that’s right for you and your family. However–we should all expect that same respect in return. To the parents who want to enforce their own limits on the reading habits of children who are not members of their own family, I say hands off. End of story.

What are your thoughts? I’m interested in what others think about this issue.  Please share!

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Author: bookmammal

I love books, reading, writing, cooking, eating, reading while eating, and sharing thoughts about all of the above–plus a bit more! I usually post about topics relating to books and literacy during the week, and then participate in a variety of non-bookish memes on the weekend. Please feel free to join in! Some random things about me– –I have multiple bookshelves in every room of my home except the bathroom. They’re all filled to bursting. They help to make my house my home. –I have two cats who I love dearly, but who I definitely do NOT dress in human clothing. Ever. –I’ve never had a cavity. –I make a mean spaghetti sauce. –I’m a newcomer to yoga and I love it. –My day is not complete without a little chocolate.

21 thoughts on “Musing Mondays–Thoughts About Banned Books Week

  1. ABSOLUTELY! I just posted on my poetry blog on the same subject.

    Check out this article from 1953: http://www.ala.org/advocacy/intfreedom/statementspols/freedomreadstatement

  2. So truly said..Censorship always has issues. Sometimes I think people find it easier to ban the book rather than deal with what it’s takling about. And we always have a choice to not read it.

  3. Absolutely, there is always the choice not to pick up the book/watch the film etc. But a) parents are responsible for parenting their own children, not everyone else’s children, and b) children will always want to read what their parents disapprove of! SD

  4. I agree completely – your kids, your decision but DO NOT tell someone else how to raise their children or live their lives.

    Have a good week.
    Lauren @ The Hottie Harem

  5. I think your blog post put it very well, your kids, your decision, other peoples kids , mind your own business. I am a liberal when It comes to my reading, but even then I make choices, so I feel everyone must make their own, but not others’ minds up.

    • Thank you! I’m pretty liberal in my reading too, but I do make conscious decisions about what I do and don’t read–and how much value I place on what I do read. The point is, I have the freedom to make those choices for myself.

  6. I totally agree with you this is a valid point!

  7. I agree. It’s your choice, not some possibly narrow-minded other person’s choice. Have just finished reading The Rape of Nanking by Iris Chang – very disturbing. Have just started to read The Girl Who Fell From the Sky by Simon Mawer, fiction set in WWII.

    • Wow–The Rape of Nanking is a tough book and definitely not for everybody. I read it a few years ago and I agree with you–very disturbing. However, an important piece of history to know about so that it will never happen again.

  8. Yes, that’s true isn’t it? People should eventually mind their own kids – each one to his/her own I suppose. Also this, http://www.buzzfeed.com/harpercollins/15-books-banned-for-the-most-absurd-reasons-ever-9npd.

    Here’s my first shot at this weekly series: http://cupandchaucer.wordpress.com/2013/09/23/musing-mondays-september-23/

    • I agree–what’s right for one child isn’t necessarily what’s right for another–but that choice should be made by the parents of each child. Taking the books away completely will take away that choice.

  9. Great post. I agree that parents should guide their children but only thier children. Here is my MM

  10. Totally agree. My children my choice, your children your choice. I’m 100% against banning. Here’s my MM: http://daystarz.wordpress.com/2013/09/24/musing-mondays-9/

  11. This is a great post!

    I have an award for you: http://www.kwizgiver.com/2013/09/shine-on.html

  12. Perfectly put and appropriately succinct as well as brilliant! HERE! HERE! You must have a standing ovation for this. I wish many more would have this opinion.

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