Sunday, September 25, 2016

Banned Books Week Discussion: Censoring Your Own Child's Books

So it is Banned Books Week, an event that brings to light the issues of censorship of books to the point of challenging them and even banning them in some cases that goes against the First Amendment.  Now to be honest I usually miss this week because I have never really focused on reading banned or challenged books, if it looks like a good book, something I would be interested in or comes highly recommended, I read it. Simple as that, but right before Munchkin was born someone did make me think, and it is something I have been thinking about ever since, so I thought it was time to bring these thoughts to you for discussion.
A few months before Munchkin was born, a friend of a friend contacted me regarding censoring my child's reading. She was writing a thesis paper on the matter and wanted an avid reader, book lover and future parent's take on the issue.  Of course when she first asked me the question 'Will you censor your son's reading or not allow him to read certain books?" my initial and immediate response was no, absolutely not.
Now, Munchkin is 4 years old and starting to pick his own books at the bookstore and what he reads off our shelves at home. This question comes back to me often. Am I censoring what he reads? Some might question whether at this age if it is even a matter of concern but as we look at the ALA's website there is a whole list of Children's books that have been challenged and banned.  Some of the books on that list are for a slightly older reading audience the my son but some of them will surprise you. . .
So anyway back to the question at hand. Have I already started censoring what my son reads? I certainly do guide him away from the books that we have read in the past that caused him nightmares.  I also make it a point to put books that are more age appropriate on the bottom of our bookshelves. But do I actually censor what he is reading? I do not believe so, instead what I do is provide a vast number of options that are appropriate for him at this time.  I look at that list of Children's books that have been banned and challenged, and I can honestly say I don't think there is a single book on that list that I would feel uncomfortable with him reading at some point.  In fact I did read a couple of them on the list that we haven't read before to discuss throughout this week, and I didn't find anything disagreeable to him or myself in them, and certainly no reason to remove them from a bookshelf.
(The bookshelf in Munchkin's own room offers a variety of books for him to read and look at, including some of the books on the banned list)
As he gets older, I will be asking myself this same question time and time again. Am I censoring my son's books?  I would like to think that I will encourage him to read what he enjoys, provide him with enough options of age appropriate books, and even books that others have challenged in the past. I would like to believe that he will be able to read a book and be able to come to me with any questions the content of the book may bring up. I also hope that if his school bans a book from lesson plans or their library that I will be able to find out and get a copy for ourselves and read and discuss it at home.
So I would like to hear from you. Have you been asked this question in your own lives?  Some might consider the fact that I try to limit him to age appropriate books to being a form of censorship. What do you think constitutes as censoring books your child reads?  Have you encountered book censorship in your own lives?


  1. I don't have kids so I can't say for sure what I'd do but I think I'll play it by ear with each child of I have any. My sister and I are so different that I'm glad my mom didn't treat us the same. My sister was overly sensitive and had nightmares over every little thing. My mom could have banned all those things from me but she was smart enough to realize I was a different person and not quite as sensitive. So she allowed me to read those things or watch those things that she would never allow my sister to watch or read.

    1. It is really hard to say what will come to be. I like how your mom did it, you definitely have to tune into each individual child's abilities and sensitivities. With Munchkin we have to be careful with books (or even movies) with snakes, tigers or lions. He is fearless when it comes to pretend things like monsters or ghosts or aliens. So is it censoring when you steer your child away from those books or just not keep them in the house? I think of it more as self preservation because I need sleep too! Though he does occasionally get those books at school, after the nightmares we talk about how Momma doesn't let tigers in the house, and that they live in the jungle or the zoo. Thank goodness he is a very practical thinker and takes things in the literal sense, I am able to rationalize with him, he will still have nightmares but we can talk him through them pretty quickly.