Hello, hello my friends! I am back!! I’ll be publishing another post with all the explanation and stuff tomorrow (hopefully) so be on the look out for that! In the meanwhile…
Welcome to another Let’s Talk Bookish post! Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme, created and hosted by me, where we discuss chosen topics, share our opinions, and spread the love by visiting each other’s posts.
Today’s topic is: Banning Books: A Bookish Sin or a Reasonable Act
I don’t know why I’ve never thought about this before, especially when there are banned books lists, and controversies all the time about whether a book should have been banned by XYZ school district or not. But I’m thinking about it now, so let’s jump right in.
*disappears to do some research*
Okay. So I’ve read the American Library Association’s page on banned books, and took a look at the list of books that were challenged/banned in 2018.
And by challenged, it means that there was a formal complaint and an attempt to remove the book. Banned means that it was actually removed.
Something that seems to be common with all these books that are being challenged or banned is the fact that the book allegedly contains sexual or vulgar content, or “controversial” topics such as LGBTQIA+ issues, or different representations that show what it’s like for that rep group to live in this world (think The Hate U Give).
Most of these challenges are lead by parents who complain about the reading material being provided in their child’s school or library.
And in some cases, I think they have a point.
Some of these books are definitely not in the right places. For instance, a young adult novel should not be given to middle school children. (And middle school means 6th, 7th, and 8th grade.)
For instance, Looking For Alaska by John Green was challenged by a parent of an eighth grade student. Administration removed the book immediately and a representative said it was because the book had descriptions of pornography, and included smoking and an ending that seems to suggest a possible suicide (qtd. in ALA Field Report 2018).
I understand that. It’s seriously ridiculous that some of these books being challenged/banned are YOUNG ADULT novels in middle schools. Who puts YA novels in middle schools?? Like really?? And then you’ll complain when parents want you to remove them? (Some other middle school had The Hate U Give. Come on guys. Really??)
These books have much more mature topics and themes, and I think it’s better if they are placed in high schools instead. If a middle schooler is extremely mature and ready to tackle these kinds of topics, then fine, they can go find them at the library outside of school and read them on their own.
What I don’t understand though, is parents complaining about YA books being given to high school students. (And High School is 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th grade.) I’m pretty sure that YA is for high school students, and I don’t understand why you’re complaining about your 10th grade Honors English student reading Beartown by Fredrik Backman (also from the ALA’s list).
They’re in 10th grade. Honors English. Not even normal English. If they don’t get exposed to the horrors of the world now (which I’m telling you, your kids are probably not as innocent as you think, so this is probably nothing new to them at all), and in a more controlled and constructive way by reading a book together in a class with a teacher before they leave high school, when do you expect them to?
Aside from books being given to the wrong age group of students or being shelved in the wrong place, I think the rest of these bans and challenges are ridiculous. Really ridiculous.
And because I believe I am highly comical, here’s an open letter to people who suppose that banning or censorship is okay.
You can’t control what the world reads.
You can’t control what your state or country reads.
You can’t control what your city reads.
You can’t control what your tiny town and community reads.
It. Just. Can’t. Happen.
If you don’t want to read a book, and you don’t want your family to read it, FINE. Don’t pick it up at the library. Tell your kids to put it back if they pick it up and hopefully have a good explanation about why you don’t want them to read it.
But you can’t go to the district or state or library board, or whoever, and demand that the book be removed, or worse, try to hide them in the library’s vast shelves, or even worse, borrow the books then burn them live on Facebook (ALA’s List).
It’s also unfair to censor the kind of books available for kids.
Including more LGBTQIA+ books or more diverse books with characters from all over the world and from different religions and such that are written specifically for an age group, and there is nothing wrong with the book (ex. it doesn’t contain vulgar language and it’s supposed to be a book for 5 year olds) besides your personal dislike for it, is OKAY.
Actually it’s more than OKAY.
It should be the reality, not something that one has to applaud and cheer and dance and sing about when they see it happen.
You may not believe in the book’s message, and you may disapprove, but you don’t have the right to demand that it be removed all together, because there are other people who are less close-minded than you who may want to expose their children to this at a young age so they can grow up to be better and more tolerant and accepting people.
You’re not the book police; you’re not the censorship police.
And by the way, if you didn’t know since you may have a much nobler name for it, what you are doing is censoring books. And censorship is wrong.
Imagine if I were to take your completely un-diverse, completely uncontroversial, completely bland books about happy girl meets happy boy and they fall in love and decide to ban them all because they don’t show the actual reality of the world.
Would be absolutely outrageous wouldn’t it?
You have the right to read what you want. You have the right to read stories that don’t show the true reality of the world. You have the right to read perfectly average and “normal” and bland books that aren’t “controversial”.
Well guess what. The rest of the world has that same. lovely. privilege. too.
And your claims that these books that you want to ban are so called propaganda or are “heavy duty indoctrination” (ALA’s list) are ludicrous, because your attempt to censor them IS a form of propaganda and heavy duty indoctrination that results in intolerant close-minded people.
Sorry. Let’s reword that.
That can result in intolerant close-minded people. Some people change and break free of everything they were taught to realize the world isn’t totally black and white and that there are so many shades of grey, it’s blinding.
So while I feel you when you don’t want your wonderful middle schooler reading sexually explicit or profanity filled books, or novels that have open endings regarding suicide, and I do agree that these books should be in high schools where most children are more mature and can understand this content better especially since these are usually YA books, I don’t understand your attempts to ban them for forever, or when you attempt to remove these books because they show the reality of the world and society’s history that you don’t like or because the author’s opinion is different from your own.
I also don’t understand your attempt to ban these books especially since that wonderful high schooler who you are trying to stop from reading this “bad” book is probably a few years away from becoming an adult and having to forge their own path in this wonderfully beautiful world.
Actually, I’m sure it’s a much better idea to leave them blind and unknowing and believing that everyone is a good Samaritan, that all police are blameless and that nobody has ever been unfairly killed or beaten by some cops, that there is something wrong with people who are LGBTQIA+ or that Muslims, Hindus, Asians, Blacks and every other minority is bad, and that the normal and right thing is for everyone to be white, straight, Christian, going to church on Sunday’s kind of people.
Because that makes our world wonderful.
A badly sarcastic high school student who should probably not be reading all these propaganda filled books since they’ve obviously messed with her head.
This Week’s Participants:
Vicki @ Diverse Fantasy Reads | Dani @ Literary Lion
*face-palm* I think my sarcasm is more cringey than actually good, but hey, I had fun!! And you all obviously know by now what my thoughts are regarding this, so it’s a win-win for everyone.
What do you think? Did you like my open letter? Please let me know if you were dying from cringe so that I don’t embarrass myself like this again in the future.
What are your thoughts regarding banning books? Do you think it is okay with certain books? Do you see where the parents are coming from sometimes, or do you think that books shouldn’t be banned at all? What’s your favorite “banned” book? Chat with me in the comments below!