Banned Books: How do you feel about the censorship of the freedom to read? Do you think the education system needs to be more strict on what children are exposed to in books?
Just so you know, this will be a long post. I bolded the big ideas.
Earlier this week I posted on twitter that banning books didn't bother me because parents can expose their children to whatever material they want to. They don't need to be limited by what's taught in school or available at the library. And a couple of people brought up the point that not every family can afford to buy books that aren't available publicly. And it really bothers me to think that young people might be kept from books or ideas that could inspire them, just because they didn't have the money. I'm still not sure what to make of that, but....
I've had mixed experiences with banned books when I was in school. Most I've had absolutely no problem with, but there was one book that really made me uncomfortable. And honestly, I don't remember it being the content so much as the way the material was presented and discussed in class. But I will always remember that feeling of dreading going to my English class, slouching my chair so I wouldn't be called on to read, and being very happy when that unit was over.
Of course, you don't need a book that's been banned to cause that kind of response in a student. With everything that young people face, it's impossible for teachers to predict how each person in their class will respond to material. I think that's why both sides in the banning debate will agree that parents should be allowed to veto books they don't think will work for their child. But a lot of people on the anti-banning side argue that one parent shouldn't have that ability to limit books for all students.
But I don't really agree with that. Because there are already individuals making those decisions for all students/patrons. There's only so much money for public schools and libraries. There's no possible way that every book can be available publicly to every person. Someone has to decide how to use a school or library's limited resources. And it seems like the vast majority of people don't know who those people are. I go to my public library at least weekly, and I have no clue who (or how) they decide which books to acquire.
My library doesn't carry any books by Megan McCafferty (of Bumped and the Jessica Darling series fame). The John Green books are housed with the adult fiction, not the young adult. Is that because of content? I don't know. Who decided that? Again, no clue. If someone thought the library was carrying an inappropriate book, who would they talk to? I think you already know that I don't know the answer to that.
While I probably wouldn't ever try to remove a book from a school or library, I'm totally fine with other people wanting to do that. Schools and libraries are funded publicly (i.e. by taxes), so I'm ok with people who contribute financially wanting to have a say in how that money is spent. What if someone genuinely thought the limited funds should not go towards media they thought was offensive? They should just go with it, in the name of free speech? Free speech is so important in this country, but so is representation with taxation.
In the end, I have many thoughts and few answers. But I'm now curious how my library decides what books to buy. Maybe I'll have to ask around the next time I'm there.