Friday, September 26, 2008

No, You Can't Read That!

Not long ago a mother and daughter were browsing through the teen book club shelf where the daughter, who must have been 15 or 16, found something that caught her interest. After reading the back of Story of a Girl she handed it to her mother who promptly said "No!" and placed it back on the shelf.

Tomorrow begins Banned Books Week and my opinion on banning books has always been that only a parent has the right to decide what their children may read – not teachers or librarians, booksellers or other parents. I have heard many stories from fellow booksellers about irate parents who marched their teenager back into the bookstore to return a recently purchased book they didn’t approve of. The booksellers got an earful for selling such a book to the impressionable angel they view their child to be. If a child is old enough to walk into a bookstore alone, choose a book, pay for it and leave, the parent obviously feels he/she is old enough to make her/his own decisions. How can that parent honestly be upset at the bookseller for not doing the parent’s job for them? Who are we to decide what your child is capable of handling?

Back to the parent that wouldn’t allow her high school student read Story of a Girl, which is about a thirteen year old who was caught having sex with an older boy by her father and how that affected her life. This parent has every right to make this decision for her daughter. Obviously I believe this story is suitable for someone of her age since I allowed our teen book club to choose it. In fact, they choose many books this particular parent does not approve of. However, I think they make wonderful choices. After reading Crank a long discussion ensued about teen drug use and these kids were very open and honest. Not a discussion most would have with their parents or teachers.

There was a conversation between booksellers about which books to recommend to boys to get them to read more. One bookseller stated she simply has to place a book into his hands and whisper, “your mother wouldn’t approve”. Of course, the comment was made in jest, but it does prove a point.

Celebrate your freedom to read this week by picking up one of the