This week is banned books week, dedicated to thousands of books that have been banned throughout libraries, schools, and colleges. Sometimes books banned in an entire country.
You can find my top 5 banned books reading list here, and my thoughts on each book. Also a bit about my thoughts on banning books in general. However… I’m a writer not a talker so I needed to write about why I find the idea of banning a book so offensive.
The first video I clicked on about banned book top fives this morning was from a woman who said she agreed with the ban on a comic book that I actually loved. She noted the sexual situations, violence, and nudity and said she agreed. It wasn’t appropriate for children.
My question… Who’s child? Just because you find something offensive, does that give you the right to tell my child they can’t read it?
I took a look at the reasons for banning a lot of the books (books that are still being banned today, btw) and one thing became increasingly clear… Most of the titles weren’t being banned to protect the children, they were banned to protect the ideals of the adults.
Take Harry Potter, for example. It was banned because it “promotes witchcraft.” Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that it did. So? There are people in the USA that are Wiccan and do practice a form of witchcraft, and they probably share that love with their children. Is that wrong? Some would say it is. Others would say inflicting Christianity on a child who is incapable if telling fact from fiction at a young age is wrong. Are either of them right? Both would say the other is wrong and neither would see their own bias they suffer from.
Harry Potter was banned because some parent saw it as an attack against their personal beliefs and was afraid that their child would turn away from them. This bothers me. If your beliefs aren’t strong enough to stand against a children’s book than they aren’t very strong beliefs and maybe you should reconsider them yourself.
Others were banned for incouraging violence, or homosexuality. M.E. Kerr was told that the girls in her book had to turn away from homosexuality at the end in order to get past the censors. I’m glad she wrote her books anyway because “Is That You, Miss Blue” had a big impact on me as I was growing up.
In some cases banning books serves to promote one life style over another. We can’t have our children growing up thinking it’s okay to be gay, or promiscuous, or practice another religion.
But with each banning the case against the people who would do this rises. If your ideas and beliefs can’t stand up to a little scrutiny then they cannot stand!
On the other side of the coin: by saying children can’t read a book because that book will change them and encourage them to do x, y, or z, you are saying that child is weak willed and incapable of making choices in their own. If you honestly think Harry Potter will make your child believe they can cast a spell and turn someone into a frog then you really don’t think highly of children.
Playing pretend, imagination, exploration of different ideas and themes encourages young minds to grow and expand, their horizons to widen. Just remember that most scientists were inspired by star trek and science fiction. That’s why you are probably reading this on a smart phone right now. The concepts for smart phones and cells phones were first invented by star trek writers.
“But, sex!” the banners cry.
Children are not asexual. Some boys look up little girls skirts. Children play doctor, masterbate, and sneak peeks. Yes they are still trying to figure out themselves, and yes they should be protected from inappropriate situations, however books are not going to hurt them. On the contrary, books might help them by showing them what is appropriate and what isn’t and giving them encouragement to speak up when bad things happen.
Part of growing up is discovering your sexuality, and learning about yourself, and your body. Books can be a safe way to explore those thoughts and emotions. By restricting books you’re actually making it more likely that a child will act on those thoughts instead of just reading about it.
“But, homosexual agenda!” :'( Just, no.
“But, violence!” Okay now you just sound like the same people crying about video games causing violence. Multiple studies prove this is dead wrong. Any aggressive tendencies they have are linked to frustration, not the violence on the screen.
Isn’t it better to teach children how to deal with frustration? To give them examples of both the right and the wrong way of doing things so they can have the knowledge to do the right thing and why it is the right thing?
Lastly I would just like to add that reading a wide variety of books in multiple genres, about various points of views promotes critical thinking, tolerance understanding, and creativity.
Moral of the story: banning books should be in a case by case for a child, not a school.