I’m gonna hopefully have time to read up a bit more on banned books before Tuesday’s event. To be honest, the ubiquity of Fifty Shades of Grey means I’m not quite as concerned about that book’s fate; yes, requests at libraries are huge, and important, but at this point, most people could probably borrow it from someone. But being in a country with a restricted press makes me all the more aware of the ideals that my own supposedly awesome country purports. I hope that when I’m a parent I will encourage my kids to read anything and everything. I remember being maybe 10 or 11, I was probably already reading Danielle Steele and Judith Krantz (I distinctly remember reading a Judith Krantz novel when I was 15 and traveling in Brazil for a chess tournament), and begging to read The Third Deadly Sin by Lawrence Sanders. No idea why I wanted to read it, but I did. I read Sweet Valley High books and true crime books that I eventually stopped reading because they spooked me so much and made me think everyone I met was going to stab me in my sleep with a needle and steal my kidneys or something.
So yeah, when I read a headline like “Texas schools ban 13 books” in The Houston Chronicle, it pisses me off.
Some titles on this year’s list were banned by elementary schools because the content was deemed too mature for young students. In some cases, administrators recommended the books be taught in upper grades in the same district. I want to read (or in Mackler’s case, reread) all these books to see what they’re all about. It’s not just information that wants to be free, it’s people, especially people whose brains are being hopefully stimulated in school. I get the impression that book banners think a kid will read about, say, sex or drugs or science or cursing and start fucking in the streets, freebasing, making bombs and only using profanity. That is NOT how reading works.
Five books were banned from middle and high schools:
1 “Num8ers” by Rachel Ward was banned from Spring Branch Middle School because of profanity. Ward’s book is about a girl who is able to intuit the exact date people are going to die.
1 “Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares” by Rachel Cohn was banned from the New Caney ISD sixth-grade campus for profanity and sexual content or nudity. Cohn’s novel is a love story that begins as a list of dares in a notebook.
1 “Love and Other Four Letter Words” by Carolyn Mackler was banned from middle and high schools in San Antonio’s Northside ISD for sexual content and nudity. The story focuses on a teenage girl who must move to Manhattan after her parents split.
(Side note: I am going to Houston and Austin at the end of October and am so excited! If you are flying NYC to Houston I would highly recommend checking JetBlue, my one way was only $125. More on that later, but I just found out that I get to go to a breakfast at the governor’s mansion! I’ve never been to one. What to wear? I hope to see this issue addressed at the Texas Book Festival, which is the impetus for my visit, though I might be taking a 3 year old for a mani/pedi purely out of my desire to see her all dolled up. I don’t know what it’ll be like to see what I consider a “New York friend” in Texas but I am looking forward to finding out. My next trips are Texas, then Scottsdale for my birthday, all of which I’m looking forward to, save the turning 37 part, but that’s another story.)