I’ll admit, that when perusing the ALA website on banned books, I had to laugh at a few of them. Captain Underpants? A Wrinkle in time? Harry Frickin Potter? Really? Seriously?
Now, I’m all about freedom of choice. If you were to take away my freedom to choose, expect a rebellion to follow soon after, cause I’ll be coming in with guns blazing. I’m also of the opinion that no two people are exactly the same. Everyone has different tastes, opinions, ideas. Ask two people their idea of Utopia, and you’re going to get two different answers. The same goes for children. They grow at different rates, some mature faster than others, whether physically or mentally. Some are forced to grow up fast, while others are what I like to call “old souls”. Some children are exposed to all life’s horrors from a very early age, others are sheltered, some are privileged, some are poor.
Teenagers are not children. They may not be quite adults, but they most certainly are not children, and don’t treat them as such. I think parents forget what being 15 is actually like. Being that 15 wasn’t that long ago for me, I remember quite vividly that I thought I was an adult. Nobody could tell me otherwise.
The biggest excuse I see for banning books is protecting the kids/ teenagers from whatever debauchery said book contains. As if reading a book about kids pretending to be Egyptians for a day is going to turn them into heathens, or reading about a wizarding school is going to make them Satan worshippers. Reading about rape is not going to turn your child into a rapist, reading about drug use will not make them raging addicts. Reading about sex will not turn your son into Charlie Sheen, or you daughter into a streetwalker any more than Pretty Woman will.
You should be more concerned about your children watching Jersey Shore than picking up a copy of Catcher in the Rye. Ok, yes, there was that whole Mark David Chapman debacle, but he was already a Crazy McCrazerton to begin with. So he doesn’t count. At least not in my book.
I know I’m going to get a lot of flak for this, but your main goal as a parent should not be protecting your children, but preparing them for life. Yes, you should protect them—to an extent, but if your teens are not prepared for the world when it’s time to fly the coop, they are likely to fail at it.
Your teens are not these special little flowers that need to be kept in a greenhouse, monitored for sun exposure and watered a certain amount, lest they wither and die; no, they’re glorious sunflowers that bloom in the mighty sun and grow to immense and wondrous heights. They’re hardy Daffodils, Crocuses, and Jumping Jacks that brave the harsh March climes to grace a dreary landscape with color and beauty and light. They’re the wildflowers that race across fields and empty lots, flourishing where others have failed.
Your teens are beautiful, they are smart, they are special in their own ways, and they need the freedom to choose what is right for them.
This week I’m going to try and read a few of the books on the list, but we’ll see how many I get to. I’m going to re-read Huck Finn, and I have Speak, Catcher in the Rye, Fahrenheit 451, and the Perks of Being a Wallflower in the wings.
What books are you reading this week?