Which is why I find it ironic when parents get all in a tizzy about banning books from libraries and summer reading lists, and then send them off to the movies to watch goodness-knows-what, larger than life on the big screen. Great literature and the latest rated R phenomenon don’t typically have much in common.
I was raised with a love of good books. My mother read the classics to me at a young age. Until I was 21, I knew in my bones that I would someday be an English teacher. I believe there is so much we can learn about ourselves from the characters that talk to us through the page. My extremely conservative Christian mother helped walk me through tawdry romance in du Maurier’s Rebecca, racist rantings in To Kill a Mockingbird, a rape scene in The Scarlet Letter, and descriptioins of genocide in Weisel’s Night.
The classics, when age appropriate, can teach so much to a child.
Which is why I’m against banning books. I simply think it’s a bad idea. Most of the time it’s called for out of ignorance. People have tried banning Mark Twain for years because he had the NERVE to write with the dreaded “N” word, yet his books celebrated people of color and showed the absurdity of treating someone badly based on the color of his skin. Instead of banning great literature, I think parents should read it with their children and have a healthy dialogue about the book. Use this as a teaching opportunity to show your kids why you believe a certain way, or discuss why the author included the questionable material. Maybe it contributed to the reader’s understanding of the story. Maybe it was gratuitous. Talk about it. Help your kids learn.
But hiding your head in the sand does nothing to educate your children. As long as a book is age appropriate and is considered to be classic literature (not the latest vampire book… although those are fun too), I think books should remain in the library.
The only exception would be Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury, because that book has always driven me crazy. I’ve read it three times and I still have no idea what it means. It’s just too dang hard. Go ahead and ban it.
But the others should stay.