Sunday, September 12, 2010

Is Challenging Books a Good Thing?

If you take a look at this article, you'll see that it's not pushing the removal of books from shelves but the act of challenging the books kids are reading. The argument is that more parents should be challenging books because of content. Once the challenging stops, it shows a lack of caring and concern on the parents' part that their children are reading such questionable material like The Catcher in the Rye and To Kill a Mockingbird.

I could half understand the reasoning if parents were actually reading the books they were challenging but they're not. It's evident by the reasons they're citing to have these books removed. Twilight as sexually explicit? Can I put the moron stamp on your forehead?

When I was in sixth grade my mom petitioned to have a book removed from a reading list. Not the school itself. Not even a single library. Just the reading list. I was in sixth grade and it was a John Saul book. Her reasoning? She'd read the book and it gave her nightmares. She didn't feel it was appropriate to recommend eleven-year-olds read this book. I get that. It wasn't ripped from the library. It was just deleted off of a reading list. But the biggest part is that she's actually read the book and could voice genuine concern. These other parents? The ones that get Ellen Hopkins disinvited from a teen lit fest, don't. They hear things from other people about things that may or may not be in the book that they don't like. They don't actually take the time to read it themselves and form their own opinions on it.

That article also points out ttyl by Lauren Myracle being challenged because parents don't like the text speak in it. The text speak isn't the concern parents would have with that book. It's female ejaculation, teen sex, private parts. Please, read the books if you're going to point out "why" they're being challenged.

So do parents challenging books show that they care what their children are reading? I don't think so. It's not like they're reading it to find out for themselves. If they cared about what their children read, then they'd keep it to just their children. They wouldn't try to have books ripped entirely out of school curriculums, torn from library shelves and authors banned from speaking. That's not concern. That's psychosis.

You know what I think of when I thing of a book challenge-free world? Utopia. It means the banners have finally gotten it and kept it in the damn family like it should be. So Holden orders a prostitute. Like a thirteen-year-old today hasn't seen his fair share of beaver shots online. With webcams, it's not hard to see it live either. No books required. What's okay for one kid might not be okay for another but what one parent feels shouldn't dictate the access other parents might otherwise grant to their children.

Lock your kid up in a bubble for all I care. But my kid will read whatever the hell he wants. Why? Because he's fucking reading. In a world where we're constantly fighting for their attention between TV, iPods, cell phones and computers, the fact that they're picking up a book at all is a glorious thing. I don't think they're going to become sex addicted crack heads from reading a book. I'd like to think parents would keep channels of communication open should their kids have any questions about what they're reading. Instead of shutting them out and blocking their access, use it as a means to engage and educate. God forbid parents do that with their children nowadays, right? Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil is the way to go.

Until that Utopia can be reached, we're still going to have to deal with things like The Diary of Anne Frank being banned from a certain school district and an author getting banned for a book he didn't even write. This isn't caring. This is idiocy. And it needs to stop.


Marty said...

As far as TTYL goes, I think text-speak is a much greater issue than female ejaculation, teen sex, and private parts. :oP D'oh!

I'm with you 100%. I'm all for parents challenging books they have a serious problem with, but challenging a book just because you've heard of others challenging that book is a true sign of stupidity.

If parents were really concerned about what their kids are reading, then they'd take the time to read the books for themselves and make their own opinions. Nuclear families, two-income households, and hectic schedules are no excuse to let the blind lead the blind.

Melissa said...

I highly respect this post. When I was in high school, we had a book called Kaffir Boy on my reading list. Now, being born in South Africa, the word "Kaffir" is the equivalent of the N word here in the US. Needless to say, my mum was fuming, but she bought the book herself, read it, and decided that though the title was crass to those of us who understood it, the book resonated, and it was an important one to read, especially as I've been raised as an American - not South African.

Vampires and Tofu said...

Great post and I agree wholeheartedly. I have never stopped my teenager from reading anything that catches her interest, like you said...she's reading! And I LOVE that.
And I do read every book she reads...even the school assignment ones. Not to figure out if I should be letting her read them or not, but so we can talk about them =) I think it's an awesome thing to share!

April (BooksandWine) said...

I cannot imagine trying to enforce my morals on everyone else at some school, considering my morals are rather loose. Seriously though, wtf.

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