Why I Encourage My Kids to Read Banned Books and You Should, Too

Posted Sep 29 2011, 3:08 am in , , , ,

It is Banned Books Week and to celebrate, my son and I thought this blog post would be a good start.

I READ BANNED BOOKS! Yep, in shouty capital letters, I admit this. Even better, I urge my sons to read banned books, too.

Why?

Because I support the free exchange of ideas.

Because I am offended by censorship.

Because I am the parent and I will make the decisions concerning what is and what is not appropriate for my children – not you, not the government, and not some faceless organization comprised of individuals who may or may not share my morals and ideals.

Because I love learning in all its shapes, forms, and accidents. I want my children to develop that same love. I won’t participate in any effort that will squash that love.

Because books offer experiences – glimpses into the past, predictions of futures we may or may not wish to ever see, and in doing so, challenge our perceptions.

The Harry Potter books are frequently on the challenged list for promoting witchcraft. Sorry, but this ain’t Salem. I’m not sure why promoting witchcraft is ‘bad’, to be honest, but if you think it is, read the books yourself to determine how much of this ‘promotion’ actually exists. In my opinion – NONE.  I’ve blogged extensively about the Harry Potter books before – they provided a granite-solid foundation on which my son’s love of reading now rests. Nothing can shake it.

Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight saga is challenged for its offensive religious themes. Again, I’ve read them and I disagree. The only discussion about religion in these books is an ongoing disagreement between the main characters as to whether vampires have souls. Since vampires don’t really exist, I find the whole argument silly. What I did find exceptional, however, is that the themes of forgiveness and redemption that figure more prominently throughout the stories are rarely discussed.

Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games trilogy is also listed. These books are derided for their violence and I agree. They are violent. They are bleak. They are not happy bedtime stories. Yet, I permitted my son to read them anyway because the civilization-in-ruins plot encourages in him a deeper appreciation for our government … and perhaps, a deeper desire to preserve it when he is the adult casting votes.

Are there any books I won’t let my children read? Yes. Of course. But I make that determination based on what I know of my children and what I thought of the book.

Do you read banned books? Do you let your children read them, too? Why or why not? 

7 Comments

Comments

7 responses to “Why I Encourage My Kids to Read Banned Books and You Should, Too”

  1. Linda G. says:

    Yes and yes. For all the reasons you said. 🙂

  2. There are a lot of criteria my kids and I use to select books. Whether or not it has been banned is never ever one of them.

  3. abby says:

    i don’t have kids (yet), but when picking what to read for myself (and hopefully in the future for them), i will have multiple criteria, but whether or not it’s been banned will not be one of them, as sarah said.

    books have a lot of good in them, even if the issues in them are not so good, so i encourage any and all reading. GO FORTH AND READ.

  4. i don’t look at whether a book is on a ‘challenged’ list or not when i decide if i want to read it. neither did my mom when i was a kid. she made the decision herself whether the book was too mature for me or not. and i will do the same when i have kids. i don’t believe in censorship, i believe in making informed reading decisions, and those vary from person to person.

  5. Patty Blount says:

    Thanks for commenting, you guys!

    I agree – we all need to make our own decisions on what is appropriate for our own kids.

  6. This is an awesome post. You are a librarian’s and a teacher’s dream. 🙂 Brava!

  7. […] essence, Freedom of Speech is the most used argument for why some adults let their kids read these books anyways. They are offended by the censorship of messages that may be against societal views, […]