• Books

    Booking Through Thursday – Young Censorship

    BTT this week:

    I read an interesting blog post from the YA author A.S. King the other day that touched on censorship—especially as it pertains to young adult books.

    Here’s an excerpt, but really, you should go read the whole thing because it’s fascinating:

    I don’t know about you, but quiet censorship freaks me out. It’s the censorship that’s spoken over tea, over lunch, at random times when we are not prepared to answer because we are caught so off-guard that we really only think about what was said on the plane home. Last year I was asked to be on a censorship panel as an “expert.” I had to reply and say I was not an expert at official challenges. So far, my books haven’t had an official challenge as far as I know. Instead, I get embarrassed looks from dedicated librarians who whisper, “My principal won’t let me have that one in the stacks.” I have quiet un-invitations. I have quiet conversations with saddened teachers who tell me that a colleague said, “But you’re not going to actually give that book to students, are you?” I get quiet letters from devoted teachers who apologize for not being able to share my book with a student who needs it because of a fear of losing their job. Ah quiet. It is usually an indication that something really important is being withheld. Like the way we whisper cancer.

    I think most of us are probably against censorship on principle, but … do you think it should vary depending on the impressionable age of the readers? Or is it always wrong? How about the difference between ‘official’ censorship by a government or a school system, as opposed to a parent saying No to a specific book for their child?

    This is the kind of topic you write essays and theses about. It covers not only official government censorship, but the issue of parenting. Every parent has the right to teach and raise their child the way they want as long as the child suffers no harm. Often, we can not agree with how a parent chooses to expose it, but where am I to say what someone allows their children to learn? I just hope parents do not let their children live in ignorance and intolerance.

    I had no book censorship as a child. As an immigrant, I knew the English language best. I transitioned into adult books at around age 12. I would still read Young Adult novels in high school, but I was increasingly reading more adult books. My own school library had a lot of new, literary adult books. These books were not scandalous.

    Books are tools and sources for learning. I think a young person can learn a lot about adults and the world through stories and controversial topics. In my humble opinion, they are better at outlining these issues than TV or movies. I think books open minds in every way so I do not think there is a hard and fast rule about when or how you can censor books for children.

    I do think parents and other adults can offer advice to children on what they can read. Some children are more mature than others, but I think some stories and books are better for certain periods in people’s lives. It’s not a matter of right or wrong, but more if the reader can appreciate or relate to the subject matter. I tailor my recommendations to my friends, and I would do the same for my child if I had one.

    This was a long answer. What are your thoughts on it?