Thursday, September 29, 2011

Soapbox Time!

A school district near us removed from the shelves of it's "Intermediate and Middle School Library" a book that was deemed NOT age-appropriate. I am not going to mention this book by name or title. I am going to include a paragraph from this book which is about young adults at a resort in the Caribbean.

"I looked up and my heart plummeted, I swear, into my colon. Because there, standing above me and ripping off his shirt was the guy. The guy from the diving board. The guy with the muscular calves and, oh god, the swimsuit riding low enough for me to conjure up some serious imagery."

The above-referenced book was removed from a library whose clients are students from 5th through 8th grades. These kids are roughly 10 to 14 years of age.

I am old but I do remember being that age. I do not remember reading anything even similar to that until I was out of high school.

I remember, when I was in about 4th grade, being guided away from inappropriate books by our very wonderful town librarian.

I remember, when I was in high school and the Franco Zeffirelli production of "Romeo and Juliet" was in theatres. I was in an honors English class in high school and we were doing a comparison of "Romeo and Juliet" and "West Side Story". My high school planned a field trip so that we could see the movie. This was done after the priests had seen the movie. This was done after the nuns had seen the movie. This was done after a parents group had seen the movie. This was done after letters were sent to our homes and each and every one of our parents had the opportunity to view the movie themselves or to trust the school. My parents allowed me to go. One of the girls in my class was not allowed to go. Her parents made this choice. It was their choice to make. However, the rest of the class was allowed, with much discussion of proper behavior and appropriate response, to go. We did go and saw a very well-made movie. This movie is still one of my favorite versions of this story. Let me reiterate, though. I was in high school. Our parents and teachers still got to decide what we were exposed to.

The school board in the neighboring town followed procedure. The parents of a student had a concern with profanity and sexual content in a book their child got at the library. They went to the district. The district referred the matter to a review committee who, after reviewing the booked, deemed it not appropriate for the age group served by this particular school library.

I have been reading comments about this story in the newspaper and I am astounded by the number of people who say that, since you cannot keep your children from being exposed to sexually explicit images in song, movies, and television, you should not be able to have a book removed from a school library. When did they quit teaching critical thinking? This is not a freedom of speech issue. This book was not removed because it offended a particular race, creed, color, or religion. This book was removed because it is not appropriate for the age of the students who use that library.

Our job, as parents, teachers, grandparents, and adults in general, is to protect, to the best of our abilities, our children. If there is a parent of a 5th grader somewhere who thinks that their child needs to read this book, they can either buy it or get it from the public library. It just won't be available at their school library.

I say hurray for that school board for addressing the concerns of a parent and for having the courage to protect the children who are in their care.


Sayre said...

I happen to agree with you on this. Even some of the children's books out there are a little too much for some kids. My son didn't start reading the Harry Potter books until he was 11. He just wasn't ready. And he had to read the books before he saw the movies because I wanted him to have his own imagery in his head before the movie imagery. Plus he'd know more what to expect - that there was some scary stuff in there. I had read all of them long before and when he asked, I told him a little about them so he could decide. He decided to wait. Not all kids would do that, so it is up to the parents and the schools to protect them until they ARE ready for that kind of thing.

Pamela said...

I'm always happy to hear that there are truly "villages" helping to raise the kids

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