Monday, April 16, 2007

Reader Mail!

Interesting email from a reader:

I read AS IF! religiously. I wanted to tell you about censorship that occurred last year in my school. I am 12, last year my old teacher selected a book for the class to read. There was no sexual content or anything. It was one word: "jackass". He would not let us finish it (but I did independently without his knowledge). My teacher told us he's a afraid of "parent complaints".
By the way here's a interesting censorship poem you may want to read.
Proud bookworm anti-censor,
Thanks, Stargirl! Personally, I think you're right to be annoyed by your teacher. If there's one thing I know from my work with censorship issues, it's that almost all of us, no matter our age, really resent being told what we can and cannot read or hear, especially when those decisions are being made as a result of fears about what "someone else" might think.
There are lots of healthy, interesting debates to be had about the content of individual books, not to mention the whole question of "age-appropriate." But I've said it before and I'll say it again: these debates should be done in public with as many people as possible getting a chance to have their say, including the kids involved.
Why? Because no matter the outcome of the debate, the community gets a chance to talk about its shared values. If a book is banned, people who don't agree know about it, and maybe get activated to change things. If a book isn't banned, values that I cherish, like intellectual independence and the freedom to read, are upheld and reinforced. But either way, people interact, and that is always a good thing. In my experience, the more a community really talks about books and libraries, the less these censorship controversies arise.
Keep fighting for books! And thanks for writing.


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