Censorship: Where Does it End?

Cover of "A Light in the Attic"

Cover of A Light in the Attic

I was in my car yesterday listening to the radio when I heard the radio personality say that her child was having nightmares after she read a poem in the book A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein. She now thinks the book should not be in the school library. This was one of my favorite books as a child. Her child had read the poem Kidnapped! which is about a child making up excuses for why they were late for school. Most of the poems within this book are humorous and poke fun at everyday activities. It’s meant to be funny. I’ll admit this particular poem could be scary for some children but that’s where being a parent comes in. Talk to your child, have conversations about the different subject matters within these poems. A lot of people called into the radio station agreeing with the host. They think this book should be pulled from the library and encouraged her to go speak with the principal of the school. I was going crazy in my car. I couldn’t believe the amount of people calling in and supporting censorship. A few people called in and reminded the radio host that this book was written in the 70’s and times were different then. I was dumbstruck when the host offered up that authors should not be writing stuff like that. What should they be writing? I wish I could remember exactly what she said, but it was along the lines that authors shouldn’t be writing and publishing this kind of material. If that is the case, why is there so many genres of books? Who then gets to decide what is acceptable to publish? Not everyone likes the same genre of book. If this book is allowed to be pulled from the library shelves where does the censorship stop? Goosebumps? Harry Potter? Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs? Bambi? Hansel & Gretel? Later in the day I went to the radio stations website and found people’s comments on this subject. Within those comments I found the best response to this censorship problem. Joan Simon from UW-Milwaukee shared what a middle school librarian had shared with her,

Reading is a joy, a privilege and the right of every student. As you select the library books you will read, please understand that every book is not the best choice for every student. If a book is unappealing or offensive to you in any way, please return it and select another. You, the student, know which reading materials best serve you and your own standards, reading level, and beliefs.

 I don’t believe censorship is the answer. If you know your child gets scared easily, or is an anxious child perhaps a better solution is to help them pick out the right books for them to read, not get rid of the book so no one can enjoy it. Every parent has the right to censor what their own child is exposed to. What is okay for one person is not for another. Each person needs to be allowed to make that decision without enforcing their opinion on others. This difference of opinion is why there are so many books available.

What are your thoughts on censorship? Should someone be censoring every book that gets written to decide what gets published?



Filed under Publishing

6 responses to “Censorship: Where Does it End?

  1. Sure, the poem may be frightening to a young child but the fault lies with the parent for failing to monitor what her child was exposed to. It’s a lesson for the parent to become more involved. It’s also a missed opportunity to warn her child of the danger of talking to strangers.

  2. Pingback: Cryptoquote Spoiler – 04/20/13 | Unclerave's Wordy Weblog

  3. Well said, Joan Simon!

    Parents and teachers have a responsibility to teach children how to select and process what they read, see, and hear. Now more than ever, kids are spoiled for choice. Some of it’s good, a lot of it’s a waste of time (but hey, not everything needs to be educational), and some of it’s scary or inappropriate. Children have to be taught how to assess these things for themselves; we’re not always going to be able to do it for them. Education is more effective than censorship.

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