My heart lays heavy.
Recently I was asked if I would be interested in being a part of a new group of
readers in the area that would preview books to see that they are appropriate for middle grade and teenage children. I liked the thought of that, I have done some of this proofing for friends in the past. As the information unfolded I discovered that this group would work at having books that they decided were deemed unsatisfactory for young eyes to be removed from the schools.
Visions of book burning swam before my eyes. This is when I realized there is a difference between book lovers, lovers of the written word – and readers.
There was a particular book that was already being sought out for removal I was told. A book filled with inappropriate language. I started to think what YA book could have caused such a stir… was it Hunger Games, Twilight, certainly we have moved beyond Harry Potter by now….
and then I was told the book’s title,
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck.
At this point my heart fell. Steinbeck. A Classic. Banned Books. Censorship.
I called a friend, a fellow book lover and someone I know who takes great care with what she has her children read (ages 7 – 14) to ask her thoughts on this and she was shocked. She said what I needed to hear at that moment, that it is up to us as parents of our younger children to help them choose books and to help them understand when a book may not be a fit for them due to language, sexual content… or EVEN why a book was written that way – perhaps it was the time period…. The answer is not to take the books away…
the answer is not censorship.
Of course, Of Mice and Men is not new to this battle. Published in 1937, this book is one of the most challenged books of the 21st century due to the vulgarity,offensive, and racist language within its pages. And while I am not a fan of the language – the story does cover such topics as friendship and bullying – BULLYING. A topic that is huge today.
Please chime in on this one. I would love to know your thoughts.