Kids and curiosity go together. Sometimes the books that challenge the minds of children the most are the books that some people feel are inappropriate for them. Children are thinkers, and they can only grow if we give them the opportunity to read all types of literature.
It's important for each parent to decide what's appropriate for their child to read. Unfortunately, removal of books and other library resources based on the objections of a few restricts access for everyone. Libraries must provide resources for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community.
Retired school librarian Pat Scales, who wrote "Teaching Banned Books: 12 Guides for Young Readers" and is Chair of the American Library Association's Intellectual Freedom Committee, suggests that banned books have important lessons to teach youth, particularly when they are guided by their parents. These books can help to:
- Spark open and honest discussion
- Understand and debate real-life issues
- Learn to function in a changing society
- Nurture intellectual growth
- Encourage creative and critical thinking
- Recognize and accept cultural differences
- Value literature of all genres
Parents, teachers and librarians can all help children to understand sometimes difficult or complex issues. Scales offers the following tips for parents sharing banned books with kids:
- Read the book together
- Discuss the book with kids
- Discuss why people are afraid for kids to read some books
- Talk about the specific reasons that people give for banning the book
- Talk about the importance of reading the entire book before forming an opinion
- Encourage kids to ask questions
- Ask kids to state their own opinions about the book
In honor of Banned Books Week 2011, we asked Barbara Jones, the director of the American Library Association's (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom, to speak directly to parents about the importance intellectual freedom and how parents can connect with their kids during Banned Books Week.
In part 2 of the video (below), Jones provides some background about Banned Books Week and talks specifically about and And Tango Makes Three and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian , two frequently challenged books.