I never would have known that Banned Book Week existed if I wasn't in the blogosphere. Not sure what that says about Banned Book Week...
Anyway, I thought I should put in my two cents worth. Or four cents worth, if I can turn this into four blog posts this week. (Eek, not sure if I have that many cents worth on the subject of banned books...)
Whether or not I get to four posts, I wanted to emphasize one thing:
How are we defining 'banned'?
It feels like a lot of people are getting upset because books are being banned by schools, libraries, and...well, that's about it. Also for being written up in editorials for being "soft-core porn." We say that all these books are 'banned,' only to discover that you really can still buy them on Amazon.
So they seem to be more locally banned than any nation-wide bonfire.
Is it really wrong that schools should be able to call their own shots on this? Each school is different: different school boards, kids, locale, community. They've got different people to please.
They don't control your kids. The teachers/faculty aren't saying, "Thou shalt not read Judy Blume." They're simply not allowing a controversial book into their library - where parents have zero say.
The school is not responsible for providing literature to kids. The parents are. If parents are counting on schools to provide their kids with books, even books that the parents may not want their children reading, then we have a serious problem.
What about the underprivileged? What if the parents aren't aware of good books and bad books and must-read books? Then there's still a problem. Over the whole Speak controversy, I've read many times that it's the parents' responsibility to monitor their children's books. But if the parents aren't involved enough to promote/forbid their kids controversial books, then they obviously aren't involved enough to be there to "discuss" with the eleven-year-old that just read that sex scene.)
Either way, the ultimate problem is a lack of involved parents that know what their kids are reading. If every parent in America was aware of all the books at their kids' fingertips, we wouldn't even be having this conversation. Sadly, most parents are giving all of that responsibility to the schools and trusting teachers, school boards, faculty, and general-American-consensus-on-that-book to control what their child doesn't read...and is required to read.
I think I may talk about this more tomorrow.