Friday, October 28, 2011

Defend the Freedom to Read: It's Everybody's Job

I'm back from the dead!  Okay, maybe not, but it feels like it after finally finishing up about 10 projects that I had on the go.  And now that I'm back, what better way to start than with a movie!!  This short video comes from the ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom, which requests that we all do our part to bring attention to book challenges to Defend the Freedom to Read.  After all, it's everybody's job...

So, now that you've seen that (hopefully) enlightening little video, it's time to talk about specific book challenges.  In Borger, Texas, a book was recently removed entirely from the Borger Intermediate and Middle School Library.  The book in question?  Carolyn Mackler's Tangled.  The book follows four young people as they vacation in a Caribbean resort.  The reason that it was banned from the school district?  This passage:
"I looked up and my heart plummeted, I swear, into my colon. Because there, standing above me and ripping off his shirt was the guy. The guy from the diving board. The guy with the muscular calves and, oh god, the swimsuit riding low enough for me to conjure up some serious imagery."
Really, is this so bad?  I mean, okay, so a younger student might not be the best audience, but you can't tell me that middle school students are not thinking in these terms and that this passage is somehow so overly explicit that it's going to ruin a child for life.  As one commenter on the ConnectAmarillo article wrote:  "thats all the book said, pretty much? Newsflash, boys have penises and girls have vaginas. And I am about 99.9% sure that most middle schoolers know this."  Is this passage really enough to have books completely removed from libraries these days?  Apparently.  Are we so easily offended by sexuality?  Apparently.

It angers me that books are taken away from students for so little in this day and age when access to books should be celebrated and enjoyed.  Why is it that suddenly anything remotely sexual is too much for teens to handle?  Well, it's not, really.  It's parental discomfort.  Most of these concerns are from parents who, it seems to me, are much more afraid of sexuality than their children.  Please, parents, let your children read and ask questions!!  It doesn't help to shelter them when they already (probably) know more about sex than you do.

Anyway, thanks for listening.  Let me know what you think.  And keep your eyes peeled for challenges in your area, wherever you are!  Remember, defending the right to read is everybody's job!

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