“What man does not understand, he fears; and what he fears, he tends to destroy.”
–William Butler Yeats
This week I won’t be following my usual schedule so that I can talk about banned books, share titles, interviews, and videos.
BANNED! One School Says No to Click Here
I’ve had only one personal experience with one of my books being banned. An elementary school that went up to sixth grade had expressed an interest in having me speak to the fifth and sixth graders. The principal requested a copy of Click Here to share with a “committee.” I was wary, but open, and sent the book immediately. Unfortunately, the committee was a group of fearful parents who, after reading Click Here, deemed in inappropriate for their students, citing language (no F or S bomb, just the “damn,” “hell,” and some “crap” thrown in for good measure and other elements that were rather vague. They were concerned that after reading my book, their children would start saying “damn” and “hell” on the playground and what kind of example would they set for the younger kids?
Hmmm. Raise your hand if you believe a good percentage of those kids were probably already using those words (or “worse” words)?
The hardest part is knowing that, by closing the door on my book (or any book), these parents effectively closed the door on an opportunity for a meaningful discussion with their own children and taught them that if you don’t like something for your child, you have a right to censor it for all children in a particular group/school. They have a right to tell their own child they would prefer s/he didn’t read my book, but to not allow other parents the same opportunity to decide for their own children…
Fear can drive us to do all kinds of things, sometimes good, sometimes not so good. But the kind of fear that censors or destroys is the worst kind of fear because it prevents discussion, understanding, and a deeper awareness of others. Many of the books that have appeared on banned books lists are books that foster understanding and connection. Many have changed lives and in some cases, have even saved lives, like books by Julie Anne Peters and Ellen Hopkins.
I challenge us all to create, rather than destroy. Create connections, build relationships, foster communication. Be the one who opens the door, letting in a bit of light.