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It’s banned books week, and that makes both happy and sad. It makes me happy to know that we as a society care enough about reading and free speech to devote a whole week to the books others are trying to ban, but it makes me sad to know those people trying to ban books sometimes win.
I’m not saying every book that’s ever been challenged is a masterpiece. (Wasn’t 50 Shades of Grey one of the most challenged books this year, and uhh– I already read that book so you didn’t have to.) What I am saying is that those books have a right to exist, to be made readily available in libraries and bookstores across the nation, and I as a parent should be the one to decide what subject matter my daughter is ready to tackle on her reading list, not some arbitrary committee who thinks they know what’s best in the upbringing of our children.
And to my daughter, I have something to say… Just read. Read books that are a little too scary because sometimes life is a little too scary and that experience will help you deal with it. Read books that are a little too racy– you won’t understand most of it until you’re ready to anyway, and if you have any questions, I’m here to answer them. You don’t need to ask the kids at school. Read books that are a little too explicit. Step outside of your comfort zone and read about things that don’t happen in your cushy land of suburbia, because there’s a whole world out there and someday you’re going to step out into it.
Kid, just read. Read what makes you happy– what makes you laugh, what makes you smile or stop and think. I’ll read along with you. We can tackle the things you come across in your books together, and we can both learn new things about different cultures and lifestyles.
I’ll make you a deal: Stay up past your bedtime, and I’ll pretend not to notice the flashlight under your covers as you finish one last chapter of your banned book.