Monday, October 1, 2012

What are you reading?

I just took my kids to the library, and I was shocked by the sheer number of my family's favorite books that have been banned for one reason or another. Wow!

It got me thinking about what makes someone ban a book. Inappropriate language. Situations that are inappropriate for young adults (or tweens, or children--did you know that James and the Giant Peach is a banned book? Captain Underpants--some of my boys' favorite books--as well.) Even books for adults have been banned because someone out there doesn't like what the author had say.

But what they say matters.

Their stories open us up to subjects or language that might make us uncomfortable. They may confront us with ideas that make us question our thoughts and beliefs. But the operative word there is open.

Such stories open our eyes, hearts and minds. They show us a side of life that might be utterly different from our own. Just because it isn't our experience doesn't make it wrong. It's someone's experience, and it would behoove each and every one of us to learn more about experiences that are different from our own. How else can we show compassion to those who need it?

I had the good fortune to hear a talk by Chris Crutcher--one of the most banned YA authors around--at the Rocky Mountain SCBWI meeting. Chris has worked with kids whose lives have been anything but easy. And as he pointed out, those kids don't use nice language. So when he writes a novel about a kid in a similar type of situation, he uses true-to-life language, and he describes events that many of us might like to pretend don't exist.

But hiding our heads in the sand does nothing. Opening our hearts and minds to kids who live through those experiences does a lot.

What are you reading?

1 comment:

  1. Wow! You know, I thought we lived in a country where there was such a thing as FREE SPEECH. Censorship is just as horrific as thievery. Oh, wait...those are different? Thanks for the reminder that books get banned every year. The question is why and how? AND WHY, WHY, WHY? I have noted Banned Books Week on my calendar for future reference. Captain Underpants?! C'mon! (Though I've never actually read it, YET!) Or will I still be able to in the future?