I just finished reading a recent article published by Dan Gutman that I came across in the May 2010 issue of School Library Journal. This article is also published online and the link is posted here. Please read the article and then continue to read my post so it all makes sense.
I agree with Dan Gutman on every level in this article. We have the right to read what we want just as we have the right to choose the decisions we make in every aspect of our lives. We know upfront that some decisions are just wrong and will lead to consequences, but at least we have that right to make the wrong choice. I am a firm believer in not banning books. It really drives me crazy to think that one person can ban a book from a mass audience. I am a firm believer that it is the job of the parents to be aware of what their child is reading. Yes, teachers should help aid in the process, but in the end it comes down the family dynamics and the beliefs and values of each individual family. I have posted this before about how adults will be offended by the content in a book, but do not bat an eye about letting a child watch an R rated movie, play violent video games, or listen to music that they should not be listening too. I find it so ironic that they believe the printed word is that powerful. I wish it were because if the printed word held that much power, then I would write notes everyday for students that stated, “Doing schoolwork is important, please be sure to get all work done and to your highest ability.” I am not stating that the printed word does not have an impact, but the kids today are more easily persuaded through the visual stimuli of tv shows, movies, music, etc. If a parent does not want their child to read a certain book then that is fine. That is their choice. However, like Dan mentioned in the article it is not their right to prevent others from reading that same book. Some parents are very up to date with the contents of the reading material and choose what can be read and what cannot be read by their children. That is awesome that they are that involved. Other parents find it a miracle for their child to actually read so they don’t care what it is(within reason) as long as they are reading. Every child presents its own factors in our decision making.
I am glad this article was published. It really ignited my flame and my passion for reading and writing my own book. I give many book talks throughout the school year and I always discuss a wide array of books from the lower level novels to books that are geared towards reluctant readers to novels that challenge the good readers and finishing off with upper YA books. I find books that are new and off the beaten path so I am not going over all the same books that students already know. With every book talk I always start with the idea that they know their limitations of reading level, content that is appropriate, etc. I tell them that I am merely suggesting books that I have enjoyed and that does not mean they are for everyone or will everyone like the books. However, I am providing them the choice to make a decision for themselves about what to read. In the end isn’t that our goal, to teach the youth how to make educated decisions so they are successful in all avenues of life? Why not help them by allowing them to choose their own books instead of banning books.
P.S. By the way, I love the list of challenged books and now plan to read all the books that I have not read off that list just to see what all the hub bub is about. As if I need more to read.