Thursday, April 12, 2012

Book Banning

I attended an interesting panel discussion on the topic of Young Adult literature last night featuring Ann Brashares ("Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" series, "The Last Summer of You and Me" and "My Name is Memory"), Rebecca Stead ("When You Reach Me" and "First Light") and Gretchen Rubin ("The Happiness Project" among others) and moderated by Newbery Award Selection Committee member Roxanne Feldman.  I was fascinated by the theories posed about the growth of YA fiction (once teens and pre-teens could go online instead of going through the children's section to buy books everything changed, plus social media has been a huge boon) as well as the idea that it isn't just enough to write about kids of a certain age -- you have to get into their heads and avoid nostalgia and other adult ways of thinking (including empathy for parents).

But the thing that really struck me occured during the Q&A.  Parents asked about censoring what their kids read (and watch, and are otherwise exposed to) and amazingly, the panelists seemed to agree that monitoring what kids read isn't enough -- that parents should forbid kids to read books deemed inappropriate.  I have always felt that because reading gives you control -- you can skim over parts you don't like or avoid them all together or you can put down the book for awhile -- that censoring what my kids read isn't warranted.  And unlike movies or tv, reading doesn't force images into your head that you then can't get rid of.  I've seen in my own reading and in the book selection of my sons, that if a topic is too advanced (like sex), younger readers either don't find it interesting and don't want to read the book, or they just don't get it.  By the times kids want to read about an adult topic like sex, it is better to use what they are reading to start the important conversations that will help them understand your family values.

1 comment:

Anne said...

I think that allowing and encouraging your children to read controversial material can lead to great conversation. Being open to what your children think can certainly make your heart beat fast but also leads to new insight into their thinking. I may not always agree with my children but it is usually interesting.