professornana (professornana) wrote,

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SpeakLoudly: Disturbing Statistics

A recent Harris Poll concludes that more people are inclined to ban or challenge a book than ever before: Her is the chart indicating the breakdown of their replies:


"Do you think that there are any books which should be banned completely?"

There is so much information to glean from this poll and the charts provided. Survey respondents think the school librarian should keep kids from content that might be inappropriate for them. These books include:

1. Books with explicit language (60%). Of course, now we need to get some details here. What do you consider explicit? Will it be the same as language I deem explicit? Doubtful. And in some locations, explicit language includes "taking God's name in vain." Holy Moly!

2. Books with references to violence (48%). Interesting to note that language will get you banned before violence will. What kind of violence, I wonder? War? Bullying? Hate speech? Just asking.

3. Books that include witchcraft or sorcery (44%). Buh-bye, Harry Potter. Buh-bye fairy tales, too.

4. Books with references to sex and drugs (43 and 37% respectively). So, if someone drinks (drug) and then attempts more than hand-holding, we are on shaky ground. What about books that deal with rape and sexual harassment?

5. Books that deal with religion in any way, shape, or form. No to the Koran (33%) and the Bible (13%) and the Torah or Talmud (29%). And books should not question the existence of God (26%) or creationism (19%) or evolution (16%).

What is left? As near as I can tell, we have managed to eliminate so many books from kids' lives. My required reading lists for literature classes are in danger of extinction. So are most of the books I have read this year, many books that are receiving starred reviews, and books that have received prestigious awards.

This idea that by curbing and narrowing what kids are permitted to read will somehow make them better people is so wrong in so many ways. Others more wise than I have pointed out that confronting difficult topics and situations in books is so much safer than having to confront them in real life. In addition, books can be a comfort in a time of grief or distress. Books can provide kids with a window to the world as well as a mirror that reflects their reality and a door that needs to be opened at any cost to free what is trapped inside.

In the words of Judy Blume: “Let children read whatever they want and then talk about it with them. If parents and kids can talk together, we won't have as much censorship because we won't have as much fear.”
Tags: censorship
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