Friday, February 25, 2011

Oh, the Horror! Sex Education!

Melissa Cutler, from Fox 4 News, wrote about a mother who couldn't believe that there was sex in a children's book.  Shocking?  Maybe, if you aren't paying attention to what the child picked up and the fact that it is a sex education book from the Children's non-fiction section. 
When Rose Schifferdecker opened a book from the children’s section of the Carrollton library, she couldn’t believe her eyes. She said it describes sex.
 The mother is quite upset, but doesn't seem to realize that this is the sort of thing that can happen when you tell a child to just pick three books, whatever they want!  The child isn't going to be that discerning, at least when it comes to the parent's view of what is good or bad in a book.  Then, without looking through any of the books, she checks them all out for the children.  I guess she's under the impression that sex-education books don't exist for children?  Perhaps, but now she knows.  Even the author of the book wrote a response to the situation:
Author Dori Hillestad Butler said in an e-mail statement the book isn’t for everyone. It also wasn’t written for children to read alone.
"My Mom’s Having a Baby" received an Editor’s Choice award from Booklist in 2005. It was also named a Top Ten Sci-Tech book for Youth. But I’ll be the first to tell you that this is not a book for everyone. I didn’t write it for everyone. I also didn’t write it for children to read by themselves. I wrote it for parents to read with their children.
"I know that some families are reading this book with their children when they are as young as four. Others are reading it with 10-year-old children and still others aren’t reading it at all. And that’s okay. Every parent has not only a right, but also a responsibility, to decide what’s appropriate for their own children to read. But no one parent has the right to decide what other parents can read with their children." she said.
Seems pretty reasonable to me, though still not to the mother, who still  "doesn't believe the book belongs in the children's section of a public library where any child could pick it up."

Administrator Cheri Gross, director of Carrollton Libraries had this to say in response:
Ultimately it’s up to the parents to decide whether they want to take home a book or put it back on the shelf, said Cherie Gross, director of Carrollton Libraries.
And it's not as if the book is obscure.  It's a pretty well used text, according to Cutler's research:
“My Mom’s Having a Baby,” which can be found in the children’s non-fiction section, is highly recommended by respected industry magazines and journals. It meets many criteria including the fact that it’s circulated through 20 to 30 libraries across the state.
I don't know, maybe it's just because I don't have kids myself, but if you take your child or other children to the library, you should probably check what they're reading if you have concerns about what's out there.  Not every book is for every person, so there is obviously (or, I guess, not-so-obviously) there are going to be books out there that you don't agree with.  Does this mean the books should be taken off the shelves?  Of course not.  Should you check what you're checking out of the library for your child if you're so concerned?  Probably.

That's it for today.  End rant.

Thanks for listening.


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