Another topic that hits close to home for me. I am a Children’s Librarian, and actually put together a display for Banned Books Week. Yesterday a mother approached the desk, looking at the display behind me, and started asking questions about it. She asked why we had a display on it, and said she thought it didn’t happen anymore. She is half the reason the ALA celebrates BBW every fall: to inform those who think books are not challenged or banned in this day and age.
There will always be people who think they have the right, the obligation even, to foist their personal ideals and values on others. Those who think, “I object to or take offense from something in this book, therefore nobody should be allowed to read it.” Or, in my line of work, those who think their children should not be subjected to reading profanity, racism, sexual acts or abuse. There are people who believe certain books go against their religious beliefs. There are many people who want to ban books that contain certain content, and frequently these people can’t see anything beyond that one storyline, or scene, or word. I live in a country that grants the freedom of speech, but many people think that they also have the freedom to restrict speech.
The Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling are frequently challenged around the country by people and religious groups who think that they promote witchcraft. Right. Because if I try hard enough I can make a butterfly come out of a stick and protect me from the dementors. Which are real. I saw one yesterday. I swear. I’m not making this up.
People also love to try to ban books on the human body and puberty. Books like It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris. That one has pictures. Like, of people’s bodies. Down there! Ewww! Why would kids want to see that? It’s embarassing enough having to talk to parents or teachers about growing up and the way their bodies are going to change. Can you even imagine what it would be like to have to read all the gross details and have to look at pictures???
There are children’s picture books like King and King by Linda de Haan, and like Leslia Newman’s Heather Has Two Mommies, which are challenged because (as I’m sure you can guess by the titles) they show homosexuality as… *gasp* normal!
Libraries are information hubs. The books they contain have to be as diverse as the people who use the library. Many of the books purchased for children have a goal to help parents raise healthy, tolerant kids with good imaginations. I just can’t see that as a bad thing.
As Banned Books Week is drawing to a close, I’m making a promise to myself. I promise to buy books on challenging topics that some parents might object to, and I promise to do my best to keep track of those we already bought that might have gone missing so I can buy new copies. I owe it to the kids that come in here.
Sunday Scribblings is a blog run by Meg Genge and Laini Taylor that posts weekly writing prompts.