Booook bans

Listening on NPR to a Black mother talking about the book bans that parents are trying to enact throughout the country these days including some books that talk honestly about slavery and the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

Jeebus! Why are we talking about banning books (again and forever)?

Me. 16 or thereabouts. I was reading books that The Commander was buying and we would discuss them, at least lightly. She bought a bestseller called Portnoy’s Complaint. I asked, “Can I read it when you’re done with it?” The answer was, “Of course!” The book disappeared. I found it in a drawer somewhere and I very sneakily read it. And I GOT why she hid it from me. Because gratuitous sex anyone? The thing was that I already knew what “sex” was (she knew that, I was SIXTEEN!) and I found the book pretty gross. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book by that author since. It’s not that I am a prude, just that sex has its place in literature but this was just toooooo much sex. Did I learn something from that book? Yes I did.

I had my own kids and I did NOT censor books for them. Ever read Gorky Rises or almost any of the Roald Dahl books? We read ’em all and others. Not that there was graphic sex in any of those.

The book Mother Earth Father Sky sat on my parents’ moomincabin bookshelves for years. It’s probably still there. It is a GREAT book. It has a lot of sex and violence in it but also a lot of other interesting stuff about life as imagined on the Alaskan coast thousands of years ago. One of the beach urchins read it when she was about 10. *IIII* read it when I was 50-something? I greatly enjoyed it but then I remembered that my kid had read it… Did she learn something? Probably, although she may not have understood all of it. It certainly didn’t seem to permanently scar her.

Sixth grade for the other beach urchin. Young Adult (YA) books were assigned and supposed to be read in increments (a chapter a week or whatever with class discussion). Try telling that to my kid, who was reading brick-like fantasy books at the time, plus the Shakespearean plays (I can’t even read those). Her class was reading a YA book that included Native Americans and she finished the book the first night. A Native American baby had died of smallpox. This kind of freaked her out so she asked meeee, her moom, if that kind of thing happened. Alas, I had to tell her it did. Did she learn something? Yes. Did I call up the school board to rant and rave that she was reading a book that temporarily freaked her out a bit? Hell no. (YA books are GREAT by the way.)

We do have to protect our children but I do not think we should be protecting them from history, facts, or having ideas. And if they run into facts and ideas that might be a bit beyond their years, finding it out from a book is probably better than finding it out from the Mean Girls in the Bad Bathroom at school or the internet.

2 Responses to “Booook bans”

  1. Margaret Says:

    It is truly scary what is happening in this country right now. I read books way out of my reading/maturity level and wasn’t scarred. The horse head scene in “The Godfather” perhaps.

  2. Pooh Says:

    I think that’s a blue blaze on the telephone pole in the picture. Was the GG driving, or hiking, when he came across this closed road?