Down with Censorship

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I always have interesting feelings when it comes to censorship, and reading Christine Jenkin’s chapter “Censorship: Book Challenges, Challenging Books, and Young Readers” brought up all the feelings–good and bad.

How can I have mixed feelings about censorship? First, let me assume you’re a librarian (or will be one shortly) and assure you that I’m not pro-censorship, not in the least. But Christine brings up important aspects of ordering materials where you debate in your mind a purchase of something and that you might not end up buying it because of potential issues down the road. It’s not selection in this case but censorship.

Sometimes you have these reactions without even realizing it. I order materials for our YA section (really it’s the middle school collection). My coworker orders for High School. Things that are on the cusp we’re consistently sending back and forth to each other–is this you? is it me? It’s not that we would consider not getting it but we don’t want it to go to the wrong collection–it needs to get into the hands of the people who want to read it. It’s very easy to slip into this way of thinking so you always need to second guess yourself on why you’re not buying something. I’m lucky that I have someone to bounce titles off of. When in doubt, I always order it. I can read it and if it’s wildly inappropriate it can be added to the high school section.

The second reaction I always have to censorship is my reaction to the people who want a material removed, not because they’re worried about their child but all the other children who might read it. Or who might read Harry Potter and want to practice witchcraft. Or who might read any number of things can get the wrong idea.

Now, I don’t have children but a long time ago I used to be one and I still think like one. The things that had the most influence on me growing up were my parents and friends. Not books. And I read a LOT. Do not be concerned about children reading books and getting ideas. Spend time talking to your children and passing along your opinions, morals, and ethics if that’s what’s important to you. Read books together and have conversations about how this fits into your family’s values. Or how the character does something wrong (whatever wrong may be) and what your child thinks they should have done instead. Be a parent.

Imagination is okay. Kids are smarter than we give them credit for. Not only is censorship awful because who is one person to decide if something is okay for all children and teens (everyone and every family is different) but remember: the moment you tell that kid or teen that they can’t read something because it’s bad for them, they are going to try extra hard to get a hold of that book and pass it along to their friends.

Okay, rant over 🙂

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