professornana (professornana) wrote,

ranting and rating

As a member of the Anti-Censorship Committee of ALAN and the column editor on the topic for the current volume of The ALAN Review, I try to keep up with the challenges books and lists face especially in children's and YA literature. Here is one of the latest from a challenge of a summer reading list selection in Delaware:

It is particularly egregious since, once again, policy has not been followed. Read the story to see how the person challenging the book read excerpts aloud to prove her point (I can do that with almost an boo beginning with the Bible should I care to quote out of context). But this is the quote that just struck my most raw nerve: ""We have PG-13 movies and we need to have PG-13 books," she said." These words from the person challenging the book are so flawed. Rating a book on a scale similar to that of the MPAA is ludicrous.

First, anyone who has been to the movies has seen evidence that the rating system is largely ignored. I see scores of teens and preteens even in R-rated movies. I have never seen a kid turned away from a movie for failure to show ID.

But set this aside. It is the idea that someone else gets to rate a book for me that is dead wrong. Lynne Cheney wanted to do this when her husband was VP. Do I want her (or anyone for that matter) to decide who gets to read which books? Nope. She can decide that for her OWN kids but not for me or mine.

If you ask me for some recommendations of good books, I am happy to do so. However, I closed my Goodreads account some time ago. Who am I to give out stars? When Fahrenheit 451 receives 1 star I see the absurdity of this system. It is sort of like the comments at Amazon. They are only as good as the person reading and writing them.

I have adopted the philosophy of BookList: if the book is on the blog, it is recommended. I can certainly talk about mentor texts, books I think elevate art to a new dimension, stories that push boundaries. But I am not getting into rankings and ratings. There are plenty of awards and lists out there to recognize books. Why get into a Battle of the Stars?
Tags: censorship, ranting, rating
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