My sister Kathy is the middlest of middle children, Switzerland in family squabbles and loathe to offend anyone.
But, you don’t want to mess with her when it comes to books or the children who read them.
A retired library media specialist, Kathy has made it her mission to read or re-read every banned book. I told her I’d join her campaign because I believe in the power of good literature and, like her, I’m worried about America’s kids.
The Bridge to Terabithia is a banned book now in many school districts. But, my own children were assigned to read it back in the day, so I read it too. It tells a hard story of fragile friendship and it explores grief in a way that allows the kids who read it to think and talk about things that scare them.
We need to do more of that, not less.
Every day we send our kids into schools fortified by locks and bullet proof glass and we encourage them to participate in intruder drills to protect them from a danger so real we see its awful aftermath with heartbreaking frequency. We warn them through these necessary actions that their lives and the lives of their teachers and friends are in danger. Because they are.
Our school children know about death, but they can’t read about it? They can’t process their fears about it through beautifully written characters?
As I have written before, I do not think the people most vocal about banning books have actually read them. I don’t think schools that ban songs about rainbows have actually listened to them either.
We all want the same things for our children. We want them to enjoy their childhood for as long as it lasts, and then to grow into productive, healthy, happy adults.
I just think the people who would sweep the library shelves bare are afraid of the wrong things. Maybe, instead of banning books, we should think about protecting them from the things that actually kill them.