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Why I allow my kids to read controversial books

by Becky C | Sep 25, 2017

Frequently Challenged Books

Banned Books Week 2017


Another Banned Books Week is upon us. While it sounds like we're celebrating something illegal, we're not. Banned Books Week was created to celebrate our freedom to read what we want to read.  Every year, the American Library Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom compiles a list of the top ten most frequently challenged books -- books that people have attempted to have removed from a bookstore or library.  Many books are challenged in the interests of protecting children.

Anyone who works in a library has had a conversation about why it's important to maintain a well-rounded selection of books in the collection, even if some of those titles are controversial (for whatever reasons).  We're all in agreement that we want what's best for kids -- but what's best for my kids may not be best for your kids, and vice versa.  And that is why most libraries prefer to leave the book on the shelf and the parenting to the parent. 

As a parent of three young children myself, I appreciate the variety of books available in the children's and teen departments. It is possible that my kids will encounter something that exposes them to a different set of beliefs/values than we have at home.  I'm okay with that.  Every day, my kids remind me that they are full of questions about the world around them.  It can be exhausting at times, sure, but I am thankful for their curiosity.  When they read something that differs from their background, they ask questions, and this opens the door to some amazing conversations.  (The same thing happens when they overhear something on the playground or on the school bus.)   

That said, there are times that I have told my children that they need to wait a bit for a certain title.  While I want them to explore their curiosity, I am also aware of their individual comprehension/readiness levels.  Each kid is different -- at least in our house, there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to the age when someone is ready for the same book.

Among my deepest hopes for my children are that they are open to self-examination, that they feel and demonstrate compassion for others, and that they grow into adults who are able to consider a variety of perspectives and determine for themselves what feels right.  And finally, I hope that having determined what feels right for them, when their children ask "why", I want them to feel comfortable having that conversation.



Becky CBecky likes to read … A LOT. When she’s not reading, she likes to pretend that she can garden. Her favorite books are The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz and The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman..

2 comments

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  1. Becky C | Oct 04, 2017
    This comment makes me so happy!  Thanks for sharing!
  2. Pat Stahlhut | Oct 03, 2017
    My mother allowed us to read any and all books AS LONG AS we discussed them with her. I did the same with my children (books and TV shows). It took 2 years before they caught on that "reality" shows simply weren't real. They came to that conclusion after discussions about the shows. Neither of my children follows anyone/anything blindly. Both are now capable of dissecting an action or idea for its real meaning.

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