Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Censoring books is a bad thing

I am glad to see that a school board and an English teacher were finally able to stand up to those conservative parents who are always trying to get rid of books that are being taught in the classroom. In a small town in Indiana, parents were trying to get rid of three books: Toni Morrison's "The Bluest Eyes",Bobbie Ann Mason’s “In Country,” and Chris Crutcher’s “Chinese Handcuffs” which they said were too sexual and had too much inappropriate language to be taught in school. Now, I have only read the Morrison book and it is still one of my favorite books I have ever read. It is a great look at the expected stereotypes of girls and how they are supposed to look. It also leads nicely, IMHO, into the unreasonable beauty expectations that many young women are currently exposed. I believe there is a rape scene in the book, if I remember correctly and I know that the main character is friends with three prostitutes , but by 11th grade young people should be able to handle a book with this material. When we expect our children to not be able to handle books that deal with tough issues, than they are not able to deal with the tough issues in real life. Young people are exposed to a lot of sex, violence and rough language on a daily basis in the media and in their environment, so why can't we also expose them to these same types of things in ways where an adult can discuss with the young adults the circumstances in the books. I firmly believe that if we tried to censor every book that had some questionable material according to one person's definition, than there would be nothing left to read.

I also guess that parents who want to censor books, are also probably not readers themselves. I am not sure exactly why I think this, maybe it is that my parents loved to read when my brother and I were growing up and still do and my brother and I were allowed to read whatever we wanted and I have heard similar stories from other people I know. I understand if you are worried about your child and what they are reading especially if you are not familiar with the book, but as one parent I know does, why not read the books that your children are assigned at the same time as your child so that you can interact with them and discuss the book if you are that worried about it. Banning books does not solve the problem, it only creates young adults who do not like to read which is not a good thing, IMHO.

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