A recent teacher’s note made me smile.
“He loves to read and that’s great,” she wrote, and went on to describe a few other subjects our young charge approached with a lot less glee.
We addressed her concerns appropriately, but I could not help grinning away from the fray.
“He loves to read.”
A child who loves to read has so many opportunities for education and adventure, to find kindred spirits, to wrestle dragons, to laugh, imagine, dream and wonder.
I am a big fan of reading and always have been. I used to tuck novels behind my textbooks and read through some of my classes back in the day. I don’t recommend this. But, I do recommend books and am always baffled by the movement to ban them.
I wonder sometimes if the people who are so vehement about banning books have even read them. To Kill a Mockingbird? Really?
I understand why some parents might want to keep some books away from some children. But, if you ban that book from a library, you prevent all children from having access to that book and that isn’t right.
Lawn Boy, for instance, is a book some parents who have strong feelings about sexually explicit references might want to discourage their children from reading. (If those parents are consistent, though, they’ll have to ban Shakespeare too). But the message of Lawn Boy and the way it defines family is actually really beautiful. If you ban that book from the shelves, you prevent some child who can’t rely on a traditional family for support from reading about a young man facing and overcoming similar challenges. That doesn’t seem fair to me.
Screen the literature and entertainment as you see fit in your own home, but don’t prevent someone else’s child from finding the kind of solace and inspiration they might desperately need.
I used to read the books my children brought home all the time and we’d have some great discussions regarding them. Bridge to Terabithia was one of those books and I remember thinking about how the quality of assigned literature had improved greatly from back in my day. We talked about friendship, after reading that book, and the kind of fantasy world kids create to help them deal with their real lives, and death. I can’t tell you how shocked I was to learn that Bridge to Terabithia had been banned by some school boards.
You may be able to ban books that deal with unpleasant topics, but you can’t ban death, or sadness, or loneliness or any of the million other topics our children will have to face in their lifetimes. Why ban the books that might help them through those really tough things?
Wouldn’t you rather read the books your kids are reading and take advantage of the opportunity for conversation they offer?
I’m so grateful to live in a house full of readers and books and people who love them.