Thursday, 19 May 2011
Booking Through Thursday-Age Innapropriate (or censorship)
Generally, I don't believe in censoring books. Offhand I can't think of a book that either of my children would want to read that I wouldn't let them if they chose to. I have on occasion suggested to my daughter (she's eight) that a book she is interested in may be too complicated for her to enjoy, but that is much more about the text itself instead of the subject matter. If she still wanted to read it, I would let her, but just make her aware that it may be too hard for her and not to let it put her off reading, just to try something else.
Censorship in terms of content is much more dangerous ground. My core belief about reading is that books are a way of learning about the world, other people, ourselves and the relationships between these things, and I don't see how censoring books for children can fit with that idea. Thinking about my son, who at a bright thirteen, is more likely to be reading adult books, I would prefer him to read things with my knowledge, and for him to know that any issues he doesn't understand, or that make him uncomfortable he can talk to me about. That's got to be better than him possibly reading something surreptitiously, and either misunderstanding the content, or just feeling unable to talk abut it because he's not supposed to have read it.
I do also believe that banning, or even restricting books is counter-productive. As a case in point, my son recently tried to take a young adult book out of the library (Iboy by Kevin Brooks) and was told he couldn't as he would have to be sixteen. It was a young adult book, and one by an author he's read before. However, it made him all the more keen to read the book. It's a natural reaction to want to know what you're missing out on! He read the book in the end, (I took it out on my ticket) and we discussed the controversial scene. In this instance it was a book that appealed to him anyway, it's central character being a boy who has an IPhone dropped on his head and wakes up to discover he has technological powers transferred from the phone! It's his dream, his Ipod touch never being more than an arms reach away from him! But in other circumstances, I feel he could be pushed to read a book he wasn't overly interested in, just because he's told he can't. And I don't see how that can ever be a good thing.