Thursday, 19 May 2011

Booking Through Thursday-Age Innapropriate (or censorship)

What do you think of censoring books BECAUSE of their intended age? Say, books too “old” for your kids to read?

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.


Bunnitaz said...

Absolutely, there is no better way to get someone to do something to do than saying 'you are not allow to do it".

Karen said...

Fantastic answer. I don't have kids but when I was growing up I wasn't censored. If there was something I came across that I either didn't understand or bothered me that I could then talk about it. I know if I had kids of my own I too would rather they could come to me rather than let these thing continue to bother them.

Lisa (Lisa's World of Books) said...

I agree with it being counterproductive. I know that as a teen I would find a way to do what I wanted to do.

If you are interested, my answer is here.

anthonynorth said...

That's a sound, balanced view.

Creations by Laurel-Rain Snow said...

Good answers...and I realize, now, that when I was a kid, there wasn't that "censoring" thing going on as much as there is now.

As a result, I had a lot of freedom with my reading choices.


Tribute Books Mama said...

Great answer.

here's mine:

Laurie said...

I applaud the depth of your reasoning here, as well as the examples you provided. As a teacher, I find this to be a challenging issue and I have been heartened by most people's responses today! I'm still honing my response, but I hope you'll come visit me later today at WhatSheRead to see another perspective!
p.s. Couldn't find a way to 'follow' your blog. Did I just not see it?

Sally said...

Great answer. I remember when I was about 10/11 I wanted to get adult books out of the library but I couldn't as you had to be over
13. It made me crazy and all the more determined to read them - I used my Mum's library card.

FBT said...

This is a really good answer. I agree, as you probably know from stopping by mine. I was a stubborn child and deliberately read a lot of "adult" books simply because I wanted to know what all the fuss was about. And because I was pretty much the only one who read in my family, I got away with reading things that I probably shouldn't have. However, there was this one librarian who wouldn't let me borrow adult books, but I quickly found out what days she was off and borrowed them. I don't think they have an age restriction on books here (Sweden). I'm actually going to ask when I go to the library tomorrow.

Jo said...

Bunnitaz, that's very true.

Karen, thankyou. I wasn't censored either. Hopefully my children will continue to e able to come to me about anything as they get older.

Lisa, And me! although I was quite good girl really and never did anything particularly outrageous!

Anthonynorth, Thankyou.

Creations, Im not sure if it wasn't going on, or if we just weren't as aware, due to media (internet) now?

Laurie, I can imagine that as a teacher it's a thorny issue! I would love to hear your opinions though.
Sorry about the following thing, I've been playing about with layout and I must havr forgot to put it back on! Its back now.

Sally, My library had similar restrictions, however my mum was the librarian so they were easy to overide! She would let me read most things.

FBT, I think the desire to read something forbidden just to see what is so special about it is what I'm trying to avoid with my children. If they know they can read what they want, then hopefully they will only read what really interests them.

I would be interested to know what your library says?

Lisa LaVergne-Pottgen said...

Wow. This is a very thought provoking topic and one I have spent a great deal of time thinking about. I hope you don't mind, but I have shamelessly stolen this topic to blog about on both my personal blog and my book blog. You can see my post at if you are interested. Thank you for blogging about this. I know it was a while ago, but it really made me think.

rasha said...

Very interesting!

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