During Banned Books Week, I generally bore my FB friends to tears with my endless posts about the subject. I'm not sorry. It's important. And I'm constantly shocked by how many people don't know the kinds of books that get banned or that it still goes on today and in our own society.
As a former English teacher, I have strong feelings on the topic. I never censored what my students read in my own classroom. We read many banned books in our classes and I provided them with a wide variety of books for them to read on their own.
As a parent, I feel the same. Sure, there are books I dislike. There are concepts with which I disagree, subject matters I find unpleasant, but I will not ban books from my home. Should my son wish to read a book I find inappropriate, I'll discuss with him my feelings on the matter, let him choose from there, and, should he choose to read it still, discuss the matter further after he has read it. I just can't justify banning books.
Harry Potter in their home. The parent had never even read the books, but they heard, they feared, they went on to ban. More times than I can count over the years, I've encountered similar stories. Recently, I ran across a story about a mom who was appalled that her son had read the ever-so-graphically-sexual The Grapes of Wrath and was terribly distraught that her teenager was now tainted and scarred by that for life. She'll take a more careful look, from now on, at what she bans from her home.
Really? Where to begin? A) Mommy, your teen has long been thinking of sex without reading Steinbeck's tame version of it in classic literature. B) Keeping sex from your child doesn't keep sex from your child. We're humans. Sex is kind of part of us. C) I fear for the sexual health of your son or daughter, because if you're terrified of a sex scene in a book, I'm going to go out on a limb and guess you've not had frequent and open talks about sex with him or her, which will lead to nothing good in the long run.
I could go on and on about the sexual harm one is doing by banning this book and others like it, but I'd like to stick to the point at hand, which is banning books altogether, for whatever reason. I can't think of a better way to screw with a kid than to tell them that whatever they're thinking, whatever they're curious about, whatever they're interested in is wrong, bad, dirty, dangerous, and ugly. In fact, I think that's a pretty good way to drive them right to whatever you fear.
The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty, so, no, I haven't encountered that conversation as of yet. He has asked to read Harry Potter, though. We talked about it beforehand and, as it turned out, he felt he wasn't quite ready for it, so we put it away for later. We're now onto the Bunnicula series. He's in love. Depending on how I read it, what tone and tempo I employ, it could be scary, so I keep that to a minimum at his request and we happily read together every night. We've already read some hotly contested books such as James and the Giant Peach, Where the Wild Things Are, The Complete Tales of Winnie the Pooh, Where the Sidewalk Ends, Where's Waldo?, The Giving Tree, A Christmas Carol, and countless more.
We'll continue to read whatever we want until he no longer wishes to read together and then he's free to read what he wishes on his own, because, and repeat after me here, I do not control my child.