Fifty Shades of Censorship, or How We Can Learn to Stop Worrying and Let Kids Read by Rosemary Hathaway

I can perfectly relate to this. Hard similar experiences of censorship as a kid.

“…But it often seems that the concern isn’t so much about a book’s potential to disturb or “corrupt” its reader as it is anxiety about the very private and personal nature of the act of reading itself…”

“…Concerned parent sees child deeply engaged in a book, oblivious to the external world (oblivious, in fact, to the parent), and becomes suspicious. What’s in that book that’s so interesting? And why can’t I monitor that experience? The process of reading, and the images and thoughts that reading generates, are largely internal and invisible, and some adults find that completely unnerving…”

“…Adults who challenge books are more often trying to protect themselves and their ideas about what childhood and adolescence should be than they are trying to protect real children and adolescents…”

Nerdy Book Club

Sometime in mid-July, I got a text from an English teacher friend at a local high school. She’d just heard, via her principal, that a parent had complained about The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien’s brilliant short-story collection based in part on his own experiences fighting in Vietnam.

The book was assigned as summer reading for the student’s upcoming AP language and composition class, and the parent—having looked through it—asked for an alternate text. My friend texted to ask for ideas about what she might suggest. I made several recommendations—Walter Dean Myers’ Fallen Angels among them—but the parent rejected all of our candidates and made her own choice, John Hersey’s Hiroshima.

Given that we’re just coming out of Banned Books Week, I’d like to use my Reading Lives moment to address not the dramatic cases of book challenges, like the ongoing battle over The Miseducation of Cameron Post

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