Some Very Stressed Out Thoughts on Censorship

(PSA to my lit class: Look for my thoughts on reading out of your comfort zone in a separate post. I have a lot to say about censorship and didn’t want to make this post longer than it needed to be!)

Censorship…I feel so conflicted when it come to this topic. I see both sides of it—authors that should have the freedom to write what they want (along with students having the freedom to read it), and I see the parents and educators that feel they need to protect young children from topics that they might not be developmentally ready for.

When reading “A Dirty Little Secret: Self-Censorship” , I was really bothered by how much responsibility librarians shoulder, and how many censor books for fear of losing their jobs. This isn’t okay. I think a parent should take an active role in their child’s life, and pay attention to the books they are reading. If a parent doesn’t think a child should be reading a book, they should be the one to have that conversation with the child, not the librarian. Here’s where we get into sketchy waters…say a parent takes that active role, and decides their child should not read a certain title. Well, their child can still go check this book out from the library at school. Then does it become the librarian’s job to keep a book from a child, if that is the wish of the parent? *Insert me tensing up and becoming very stressed, because I honestly have no clue about what should be done* Banning books is a bad road to go down, because someone is going to be offended at something at some point. Pretty soon we won’t have any books left for students. Removing a book because the minority finds it offensive doesn’t seem very fair to the majority either.

As a teacher, I do know that this comes with working in a school. Students come from all sorts of backgrounds…some come from houses where it is okay to curse, and others don’t. School has to be this sort of neutral environment where everyone can feel safe—a seemingly impossible task. However, if we shelter the books students read, are we really doing good? Or are we taking away a valuable learning opportunity? I’ve always thought of books as a safe way for students to experience real world problems. Like, what is the worst thing that can happen if a student reads a book with violence or sex in it? In the society we live in, chances are they’ve seen worse on the Internet…School can be a place to discuss complex issues found in books, provided it’s done in an appropriate way

Sorry if I’ve made absolutely no sense. This is an issue that really eats at me when I think about it. Especially, how do I handle it as the classroom teacher I hope to one day be? Personally, I can’t think of any books that would make me uncomfortable to have on my shelves…I’m a pretty open person, and it takes a lot to offend me. Books have never really made me feel uncomfortable. What I’m scared of is having those books fall into the wrong hands. My stance on books is that anything goes, but the reader needs to be at the right maturity level to handle the content. You could have a book in your classroom library that some kids could handle, and that others might not be ready for. I don’t think that would warrant me removing the book. So then, how do I make sure that book doesn’t fall into the wrong hands? As a teacher, how do I react if a student is drawn to a more mature book, and I don’t feel like they are ready to read it? Is it my job to even respond? Or should I let them read the book, no matter what? I really have no idea.

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Ultimately, I don’t feel like the censorship battle can ever be won. The more I think about it, it seems impossible to please everyone. If someone disagrees, and has the magic formula to win the censorship battle, let me know! But really, all insight, good and bad, is welcomed. Help me please!

 

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2 thoughts on “Some Very Stressed Out Thoughts on Censorship

  1. Honestly,I agree with the statement “A child will put down what they’re not ready for.” To be completely honest, I think if it’s a novel that you found beneficial or that there’s a lesson to be learned from a specific book, keep it on your shelf. Type up a policy to cover your butt for your own personal classroom collection and go from there. I would also recommend that as a first day of class conversation. Parents can’t pin it on you if you’ve had the disclaimer talk and it’s posted in your classroom. In my high school class, Fifty Shades of Grey became one of the most popular books and teachers talked about it and the content, but they never told us as readers that we weren’t allowed to read that book. Personally, I haven’t but I don’t see the point in banning something students will get their hands on one way or another if they really want to.

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    • This is all so true!! If we make a book forbidden, it’s going to make a student want to read it more, possibly just out of rebellion. If we offer the choice, they might be more likely to consider if it is for them.

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