Shout out to books and the people who read them

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.”

How wonderful!

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 would.

I’m so grateful to live in a house full of readers and books and people who love them.

He’s reading “Best Friends”.
Sometimes tiny readers grow up to be writers.
We get to read every night in our house and I love that.
Shout out to our libraries and our library media specialists who keep them well-stocked.
Ellen Kort, Wisconsin’s first Poet Laureate left her literary legacy all over our town, including the local library.

10 thoughts on “Shout out to books and the people who read them

  1. I, too, used to hide novel in my textbooks in school, until I got caught by the teacher and she took my book away from me! until the end of the class period. I was not happy. I just did not like math in 7th grade.

  2. Love this so much, Laura! The phone calls I still get, “mom, you gotta read this book! ” Take me away!!

  3. When I was young, I told myself I could read every book on the library shelves! Admittedly it was a small library in the 1st grade! But, I am still trying. Books have always been a constant in my life and bring me great joy.

  4. Thank you for writing this Laura! I had to read Bridge to Terabithia for a Young Adult Lit class in college. I sobbed. Such a beautiful tale of friendship and imagination. I can’t understand why anyone would have a complaint about it. I’m going to reread it as I work my way through the banned books lists!

  5. When I was a young girl, I used to read early in the morning before the rest of the family got up and I’m sure that’s why my eyes were so bad — from reading in the poor lighting.

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