Thursday, October 10, 2013

Responsible Parenting vs. Banning Books

I recently participated in a blog hop for Banned Books Week. As a writer and reviewer I read many books, and often I might like the book, but feel it is inappropriate for certain age levels. When I looked at the top ten ALA 2012 banned book list I had to agree with most of the books on there, and the reasons why the books were in question. Then there were books like Captain Underpants that made me laugh at the choice. I don't believe in banning books, but I do believe in age appropriate books.

 In fact, my 8th grader was supposed to read 2 of them for summer reading and I said no. What were they? 13 Reasons Why by Asher and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie. I read 13 Reasons Why a couple years ago and enjoyed its poignant portrayal of a girl who chose to commit suicide. But, when I finished the book, I set it aside and told my oldest daughter she could not read it until she was sixteen. So, when my twelve year old was assigned it as summer reading I was astonished. I immediately wondered at the rest of the books that had been assigned. Most were fine, but then I ran across The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. 

As I began researching the book I was dismayed at the sexual references. Again I believed this book was not age level appropriate. I asked my daughter not to read it. She agreed when I explained to her my problems with both books. A problem arose when the teacher announced that the only way to earn an A first quarter back in the Fall, was to read the Part-Time Indian book. My daughter was devastated, but I sat her down and explained that she was taking a stand for what was right and that her school grade was not, at that moment, the most important thing.

As a mom, the most important thing in my life is raising good and moral children. It is my parental responsibility to monitor things like television and books. I don't want a library doing it for me. Their ideas might not coincide with my own. As an author I sometimes get flack from other authors about content in YA novels. Many writers today believe that YA is now an anything goes genre. It makes me sad to see what is put out there and considered appropriate for early teens. Please don't be afraid to be responsible. Talk to your children about what is appropriate to read at their age. Let them know that when they are older, in my kids cases 16, they are free to read what they want and I hope that they will choose wisely, but it will be their choice. And to teachers that assign questionable books- Please value children as much as their moms and dads do.


  1. Thank you Dorine---for writing such an informative and common sense post. I was very careful of what my children read and glad I'm not the only one...

  2. This is a great post. I remember being horrified at what was required reading for my high school aged son as well. The language and situations in the book were not uplifting and I still think the only reason the teacher had then read it is because said teacher was trying to connect with the student and what they thought occurred in most of their every day lives then about teaching them something valuable. I agree totally with thinking about the value of the literature and thinking about if the content is objectionable. I think we make our children grow up too fast and put them in situations they do not know how to deal with.

    1. Yes! The last thing I need is them learning something disgusting (that other people think everyone knows) that they've never considered or thought of before.