What are we talking about today?

I'll get back to theme days once I find a groove of posting regularly. In the meantime, most of my posts are about some variation of books, bikes, buses, or Broadway. Plus bits about writing, nonprofits, and grief from time to time.

This blog is mostly lighthearted and pretty silly. It's not about the terrible things happening in the world, but please know that I'm not ignoring those things. I just generally don't write about them here.

01 November 2010

Banned Books

I'm a bit late to this party, seeing as Banned Books Week was a month ago, but I'm just now getting around to sharing my thoughts. Because I'm slow-moving. And was thinking about other things. And... never mind, let's just get to the good stuff.

To begin with: I believe children should be reading age-appropriate books. I believe that parents have a responsibility to keep abreast of what their children are reading, for a few reasons: 1) To be sure the kids are ready to handle the material (both in terms of vocabulary and for difficult themes), 2) In case of any language/attitudes the parents aren't ready for their children to be using, and 3) So the parents are ready when the kids want to talk about what they're reading. I agree that To Kill A Mockingbird, one of the perennially-challenged books, is not for a second grader. In the same way, a high-school library should have no need for Junie B. Jones.

"Unsuitable for age group" is a common reason cited on the Banned Books website (for 9 of the 10 most-challenged books). As you may have guessed, I wouldn't call that banning a book if it's a reason cited for excluding a book from a school library at which the book truly is age-inappropriate. After all, the book is available elsewhere; it's not hard to get my hands on a book that I want to share with my child, but my child's school thinks the majority of the kids aren't ready for.

Now when it comes to banning books from a public library, or a bookstore, or any other public venue: I protest, object, and otherwise denounce such an idea. Whatever someone's reasons may be for not reading a book, that person has no right to force that view upon others. And my West Wing quote-o-matic has the perfect selection for this occasion: 
This is exactly the sort of thing that should be celebrated by First Amendment advocates! ... Why aren't you standing up saying, 'See? It works. You don't need to ban movies like Prince of New York! You just have to choose not to watch them.'
And Aaron Sorkin-- as spoken by Sam Seaborn-- has this one absolutely right. You don't want to read a book? Fine. Put it down and move on. You don't want me to read that book? How about instead of a harangue about how bad it is, you just recommend a book that you really enjoy and let me make up my own mind?

Banning books is unnecessary, closed-minded, and potentially damaging to free speech. We already have the right ingredients for looking after ourselves: Free society. Responsible citizens. Discerning minds. We can do this.


Marieke said...

I couldn't agree more :)

Aaron said...


Felicity Grace Terry said...

Better late then never - thanks for your thoughts on this subject.

Su said...

@Marieke & sparquay: Thanks! It's nice to find like minds. :)

@Petty: You're welcome! I think I'll go ahead & celebrate Halloween in two weeks, and we'll be moving Christmas to January this year... Actually, a lot of things would go better for me if I just did them when the mood struck. ;)

Alison Pearce Stevens said...

Well said!

How was the Texas Book Festival? I made the mistake of taking my two hungry kids with me, and we left after an hour with nothing signed and having met no one. Lesson learned.

Su said...

It was fantastic! My husband is the family extrovert, so he went up after all the sessions to speak to the authors for a second, while I was hanging around wondering where he had gone. :) I didn't get any of the food, though. The sessions were fantastic, but we also didn't get anything signed; the books were a bit outside the budget, I'm afraid.