On Sunday I posted about Banned Books Week and included a poem by Ellen Hopkins that denounces censorship.
A few hours later cyclingrandma, whom I had never met before but was really glad she found me, replied to my post. Through that comment I found her own post on the subject. She brought up something very interesting and pertinent to my own life about freedom to read. Because I’ll be honest, I hadn’t really thought about how the subject fit into my personal life so much as it fit into my wannabe writer life. But cyclingrandma’s words called me out:
“As a teacher, I encouraged free choice in reading and taught a “Banned Book Week” unit. As a parent, I allowed total freedom of choice in reading, even as I cringed when my very young sons insisted I read the adventures of He-Man and She-Ra in the Masters of the Universe series endlessly. My daughter only wanted picture books about dogs. A friend of mine’s daughter only read books with the word “cat” in the title. These children, all adults now, became avid readers, consuming titles across genres.” (Read more HERE)
Did you read that, let me repeat: “As a parent, I allowed total freedom of choice in reading, even as I cringed when my very young sons insisted I read the adventures of He-Man and She-Ra in the Masters of the Universe series endlessly.”
Yes. That part. That part that made me go, “Oh.” So when I question my son’s desire to re-read Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do You See? every single night before bed, I’m censoring him? Hmm. Or when I try to hide the “THINGS THAT GO!” book which just details the working parts of tractors, trucks, and boats, but tells no story, I’m censoring him? Good point.
Freedom to read isn’t just about allowing children to read challenged or banned books, it’s allowing them to read freely–period. These books may not have plots. They may not teach life lessons. But my kids love them. And if I squelch their choices in reading now, what will keep them wanting to read in the future? I can surely point them to new reading adventures, especially at this age where they don’t know what is available to them. But they have the right to decide for themselves as well. And that goes for choosing library books too.
So, Brown Bear, Red Bird, Yellow Duck, Blue Horse, Green Frog, Purple Cat, White Dog, Black Sheep, Goldfish, Teacher and Children…I will see you all again tonight. Because my child would like to read.