Growing up, I made my own choices and censored the books I thought weren’t worth my time, for whatever reason.
I choose. Not a school board. Not a library. Not my teacher. Me.
I am grateful for the ability to choose what I read. Then and now. And I think it’s a freedom we must extend to everyone.
Banned Books, Parenting, and Schools
In 2011, a Missouri school board voted to ban two books from their high school library — Twenty Boy Summer by YA author Sarah Ockler and Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut.
Sarah Ockler responded brilliantly to the news saying, “Look, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it a million times more. I get that my book isn’t appropriate for all teens, and that some parents are opposed to the content. That’s fine. Read it and decide for your own family. I wish more parents would do that — get involved in their kids’ reading and discuss the issues the books portray. But don’t make that decision for everyone else’s family by limiting a book’s availability and burying the issue under guise of a “curriculum discussion.”
Here’s the problem: Censorship takes away the reader’s right to choose. It takes away an important freedom to think critically for oneself.
The National Teachers of English explains in The Students’ Right to Read: “Freedom of inquiry is essential to education in a democracy.”
As parents, we can stand against censorship for all and teach our children how to make good book choices and how to self-censor. In other words, as a parent, I teach my children how to select an appropriate book for themselves. As Ockler said, if it’s not something I want my child to read, I’d rather my kids know how to decide for themselves what book fits our family’s guidelines. (Not have the choice taken away from them!)
Banned Book Week Activities
Banned Books Week varies from year to year but is usually at the end of September and beginning of October.
“Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too.” – Voltaire
Do you read banned books? What are your favorites?
How do you help your child learn to self-censor?