My mom bought me Hooked-on-Phonics when I was a kid. Not because I was bad at reading and writing, but because I loved books! She saw that and was awesome enough to take initiative and start teaching me my ABCs early (Thanks, Mom!). Once I was old enough to start choosing books myself, I don’t recall anything being off-limits. My mom and I both read, a lot. We still do. I read the usual kids books and had my favorites. I read Judy Blume’s Summer Sisters long before I could even fully grasp what was happening, and loved it! I was even welcome to read her Danielle Steel had I wanted to. As someone who’s been reading whatever she damn well pleased her entire life, the fact that book bans still occur boggles my mind.
I recently started reading Eleanor & Park
(review to come) and was flabbergasted to find that, in Minnesota, parents filed a formal complaint about the content. Since then, Rowell’s book has been taken off the library’s YA reading list, they’ve asked that the librarians who recommended the book be formally disciplined (for what, like, doing their job?!), and Rowell’s event at the library was cancelled.
Book Riot had a similar tale to tell in an article released yesterday. Now, I haven’t read The Miseducation of Cameron Post because I’m behind on the book train, but here’s a thought. If you’re an adult—parent or otherwise—and you’re not a fan of cussing, that’s fine. If you think that your kid, grandkid, niece, nephew, or little cousin never does it…you’re wrong. If you think that kids aren’t exposed to sexuality, in some way, every.single.day…you’re dead wrong. If you think that your precious little angel is, in fact, precious or never on either side of bullying…you’re wrong again.
Kids are mean. Girls, in particular, are brutal! Your friends are your friends, but can you really trust the hormonal mess that’s bouncing around? High school is rough.
Seriously, take a step back for 10 minutes. Think about what it was like to be a teenager—emotionally and mentally. I bet you’ll recall it wasn’t all rainbows, unicorns, and glitter. We, kids and adults, all need to see representations of ourselves and our lives in books, movies, and art. Sometimes books are the only place it can be found. We need to know we’re not alone, or crazy.
The real point about “appropriateness” in Guccini’s article is apt. Just because they read about hetero/homo sex, drugs and alcohol, or abuse of some kind in a book does not, in any way, mean that they’re going to try it out in real life. They can read Of Mice and Men (murder and prejudice of all kinds), any and all Shakespeare plays (which are super fucked up), Lord of the Flies (dissent, chaos, murder), To Kill a Mockingbird (racism), The Diary of Anne Frank (Nazis. Holocaust.) without a parent batting an eye! So, I promise that lesbians, kissing and heavy petting aren’t the worst things in the world. Bottom line: Teens aren’t stupid-totally irrational-without logic-crazy people. Give them some credit and any damn book they want already!