Its still Banned Books Week.
And with banned books week comes an influx of people that are still trying to ban books.
I take this week to recognize that there are books out there that push the buttons for others. I take it to recognize that some authors work their asses off just to be pushed down again. And that sucks. I like to kind of take this week to take those books that are so frequently challenged and shove it down the throats of those who don’t want to read it.
Sort of. I’m not THAT mean.
But anyway, the stories that have been hitting the airwaves this week have included lists of frequently challenged books you should be reading, quizzes on how many you’ve actually read and even a woman who is rewriting the Harry Potter series to make it appropriate for her very Christian family (its up in the air whether this is for real or an elaborate satirical hoax…)
But I just found out recently that the Riverside Unified School District in California has recently banned The Fault in Our Stars from their libraries and have pulled them from the shelves. Apparently, the sexual content is too inappropriate and its also too much for teenagers to read about teenagers discussing death and morality. It would be too difficult for them. Apparently.
Now, look, I’ve made this clear. I think its up to each individual parent to decide with each of their children what they feel is appropriate for them to read. Personally, I think you should give children more credit and that they’ll be able to handle it. I also think if you, I don’t know, crazy concept, TALK to your children about the content you’re worried about in the book, and open yourself up to them for questions if they have them, then there should be no problem with them reading that book. But again, its your decision to keep that from your kids, if you want. I’m not a parent and I’m certainly not the parent of your child.
But here’s the thing: WHY WHY WHY WHY. Why do you think shielding your child from the realities of the world is a good thing? Why? I don’t understand that. Yes, this book has sex in it. The teenagers have sex. Insert eye roll here. I’ve said it before and I’ll probably repeat myself a million times more…teenagers have sex. Jeez. At least John Green did it in such a beautiful and tasteful way, with them being in love, with them making the choice responsibly and for them using protection, and all of that.
But I think the part that really got to me about this (besides the fact that Riverside is literally down the freeway from me, and I’m so massively disappointed in them), is that they were so highly concerned with the approach of death and mortality in the book. It would be too much for the young readers to handle.
Look, we die. And while the thought of it is literally one of the scariest things in the entire world to me, literally, it was one of my biggest fears ever…reading about it helps me actually. Its helpful to me to read about this, when other people talk about it (in books) and I get to listen. Because its a reality and reading that sort of thing makes me feel comforted. Its one of my favorite parts of the Harry Potter series. I like being able to deal with the things that scare me through books, through a second hand experience.
So why are we hiding this from our children? Why do you think keeping this book, especially a book that is so insanely popular and loved by so many teens, is going to shield them from this reality? Sure, I would give this to a younger child, maybe, but a preteen/teenager, sure. I was reading adult mystery novels, with blood and violence and and murder when I was like ten years old. TFiOS is nothing compared to that. I may think its a little overrated based on the insane popularity it is but its a great book and a lot of teenagers love it and find a connection with it. So why keep it from them?
Also, your kid is reading! That’s fantastic. Do you know how many kids are NOT reading? If your kid wants to read a book, let me them! Again, talk to them about the things that you might be concerned with and always, always, always be there to talk to your kids openly about the things they have questions with. I swear, your life will be SO much easier that way instead of just pulling the books off the shelves.
But again, this is just the opinion of a blogger, who, yeah, isn’t a parent, but its what I think, and I just don’t believe in ever censoring a person from reading something they want to read. Ever. Besides, I think John Green’s reaction to this banning in the Riverside school district sums it up just perfectly:
Happy Reading everyone :)