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BBW Day three
Sep
28
2009

(I missed Saturday!)

Top Ten most challenged books of 2008

1. And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
Reasons: anti-ethnic, anti-family, homosexuality, religious viewpoint, and unsuited to age group

2. His Dark Materials trilogy, by Philip Pullman
Reasons: political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, and violence

3. TTYL; TTFN; L8R, G8R (series), by Lauren Myracle
Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group

4. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
Reasons: occult/satanism, religious viewpoint, and violence

5. Bless Me, Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
Reasons: occult/satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, and violence

6. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: drugs, homosexuality, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, suicide, and unsuited to age group

7. Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily von Ziegesar
Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group

8. Uncle Bobby’s Wedding, by Sarah S. Brannen
Reasons: homosexuality and unsuited to age group

9. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group

10. Flashcards of My Life, by Charise Mericle Harper
Reasons: sexually explicit and unsuited to age group

Censorship, like charity, should begin at home; but unlike charity, it should end there.

—Claire Booth Luce

This quote encapsulates my perspective on issues of censorship when it comes to books for children. I’m a mother of three. I care about what my children read and what they see and hear. It is MY job to say, “hey, that one’s a bit too old for you” and to redirect with other choices. Generally, I fall on the, “let’s read it and discuss” side of the line with most things because hiding information doesn’t teach children anything, it doesn’t cure them or make them better citizens. TEACHING children about why something is bad is more effective.

I can’t tell you all how awesome it was to read the Harry Potter series with my oldest son! I read the books first and then he did and we discussed them. What a great time we had as we talked about all sorts of stuff, from the fluffy like how fun it would be to play quidditch to the serious like what happens when people abuse their power and when/if disobedience is necessary.

He then went on to Susan Cooper’s Dark Is Rising series – a personal favorite of my childhood (I’m writing about that one tomorrow). My oldest reads several grade levels ahead (as does my middle child) and over the years, since we have this tradition of reading together, he’s come to me with questions and issues he’s had while he reads. I’m PROUD of that.

Still, there are books that they can’t grasp at five that they can at twelve, so it’s a parent’s job to be aware of what their children are reading and to be part of that process. When my middle son was 5 or 6 he pulled Maya Angelou’s I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings from my shelves and wanted to read it. Now, I had to laugh since my kids clearly have good taste, but hell, I couldn’t really grasp it until I was a junior in high school. It’s a complicated book and it has some disturbing things in it. It’s clearly not a book for a 5 year old, so I steered him to one that was. But I’ll be back to it when he’s ready, because it’s an important book and he should read it.

It is not the job of the woman up the street or across town, or in another state to make those choices for me and my children. For instance, Harry Potter remains on the challenge lists year after year. And while I disagree most vehemently with the criticism of the books, I’d never presume to tell another family what they should read.

But when self appointed morality police march into school libraries and public libraries, this is what they’re telling you, what they’re telling me and I’m saying, it’s MY family and I WILL decide what they read and these uptight censors should mind their own families.

Ranty Bit: Listen, what I truly hate the most about most of these people is that they have an agenda. They constantly say that they want government out of their lives but here they are, using government to try and push into everyone else’s life and it’s ridiculous.

If you, for some reason, think Bless Me Ultima is a bad book (a tragedy since most censors admit they haven’t read the material and quite frankly, Ultima is a fabulous book) then don’t read it.

Here’s what Rudolfo Anaya, author of Bless Me Ultima, had to say about the censorship of the book: “My suggestion is: Read the book. The language is not gratuitous. It fits with the scenes,” the 67-year-old Anaya said. “The book is about good and evil. Ultima teaches Antonio that the smallest piece of good can stand against all the evil in the world. I have hundreds of letters from students from all over the country who have been moved by this book. I would love to go to Norwood with my box full of letters.”

I tend to agree with Anaya here. Read it. As a parent, pick the book up and read it. See for yourself if the book is appropriate, if it has lessons for your child, if you can enhance them or you know, actually parent and make it a teaching moment. Instead of running from it because someone told you it was bad, try to see for yourself.

At its base, censorship is about intellectual laziness. Parents too lazy to do their own work so they let others do it for them. Censors too lazy to read the material they rail about because in truth, it’s not about the content at all, it’s about their ability to control you and what you think and feel.

I prefer to control what I think and feel and I don’t want small minds parenting my children. *I* will decide what my children check out at the library, not you, not her, not him.

6 comments to “BBW Day three”

  1. Chris
    September 28th, 2009 at 8:31 am · Link

    Perfectly expressed, Lauren.



  2. Christine
    September 28th, 2009 at 8:38 am · Link

    Obviously I wasn’t doing a very good job of parenting since I let my daughter read
    two items from # 3. And I thought the Kite Runner was an incredile story. But what do I know. The library is a gift to everyone it equalizing us all. So rich and poor alike can read books without distinction. I’ll say this again and again if you don’t like what’s on the radio or the TV then change the channel. If you don’t like a book then you don’t have to read it. But when you feel you have the power to determine that the rest of society can’t listen to a song, watch particular program or read a certain book then we have a problem. Don’t impose your moral choices on society as a whole. Believe it or not most of us are more than capable of making our own decisions and to steal a phrase we don’t the morality police to make our decisions for us.



  3. Nancy
    September 28th, 2009 at 9:05 am · Link

    A-frakking-men! :grin:



  4. cristina
    September 28th, 2009 at 10:10 am · Link

    This is disturbing, the fact that “they” ( whoever they are) don’t even read the material that they want to bann. I would like to say that in canada that doesn’t happen but that would not be true. They tried to censor an articile reguarding Islam in Macleans magazine(political/economic magazine) the article was base on a book which they tried to ban. it went to the supreme court of BC and its heading to the surpreme court of canada. the outcome so far is sales thru thr roof. telling someone what to think feel and do is not the job of gov’t . their job is to provide services to govern their people.
    quote from a former cabianet member of british parliament ” it is much more difficult to govern and educated healthy confident society than it is to govern uneducated unhealthy desparte nation. desparte peole lack hope and will. They just follow along and hope things will turn out well for them. ”

    that quote stuck with me cuz it can filter down to raising children. confident smart kids who speak their minds. are always harder to manage. but so worth it in the end. you’re a good mom. just for taking the time to care. i know it seems like it would be your “job” but you know lots of parents are to busy to be consistant and involved they just stick their kid in front of a video game and wonder why their kids is apathetic. so thank you as a member of society for taking the time with you kids. one of them or all of them could be in the postion of making decsion for other people one day.



  5. Natasha A.
    September 28th, 2009 at 11:49 am · Link

    I have been saying this a lot this week. As someone who is in school to become a library technician (a step under a librarian), one of the first things we learn is that we do not have the right to censor what someone reads. We are not allowed to let our morals or ethics enter into the equation. Period.



  6. Mary G
    September 28th, 2009 at 3:01 pm · Link

    OMG – One of the school boards here just banned To Kill A Mockingbird (which is one of my fave books from high school) because one parent complained. If you look at the list it seems that sex & love are taboo but violence is acceptable. It the same with books & movies. Don’t show the sex but the blood & gore are acceptable. How different would the world be if it was the other way around?



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