Okay, now that I got that off my chest, what does all this have to do with books and reading? The connection for me is obvious: censorship. Not all censors are crazed folks who spend time counting cuss words or other things that throw them into a tizzy (those folks are easy to dismiss IMHO). Rather, it is the well meaning person who worries about content they think might disturb the reader who are the most difficult type of censor to dismiss. "Do I dare disturb the universe?" muses the poem. Jerry Renault in THE CHOCOLATE WAR has this quote hanging on the inside of his school locker. What happens when someone or something in this case (the book) disturbs the universe?
As a parent, I want to protect my kids (though they are all grown now, there is still that instinct and perhaps it is even stronger since I do not see them all day every day). I do not, however, want to protect them from the truth (or even the TRUTH). I want them, though, to confront some of this hard truths safely within the confines of a book. I want them to ask themselves, "how would I react? What would I do? Do I have that courage? Would I stand up, too?" and do that all while reading THE HUNGER GAMES, THE CHOCOLATE WAR, HARRY POTTER, or any one of thousands of books for tweens and teens that have at their heart some of the tough truths of life.
I can still remember Newlywed reading THE WATSONS GO TO BIRMINGHAM, 1963 when she was much younger. I could hear her laughing in all the right spots. I also heard the gasp and then the sobbing later in this remarkable book. "How could people do this to innocent kids?" was her question to me. This is one of those crucial moments for her as she came to realize that sometimes bad things happen to good, innocent people. She was to encounter that again and again in books. Did this harm her? I do not think so after seeing the woman she has become. She is empathetic and impassioned and observant about things going on around her, especially the injustice she sees. College Girl has spent the summer reading (YAY!) and contemplating some of these same philosophical issues as well. And she is doing so safely within the confines of her books. I still do the same.
So, tell the truth, even if it is a hard truth. That goes for you, too, United. And now, off for non-plane food and a visit to the Titlewave Books.