This has been a really hard post to write because I don’t want to sound snooty, but I’d also like to defend my beliefs.
I just read some interesting articles on challenged and banned books. About Banned and Challenged Books gives a great explanation of the difference between banned and challenged. Frequently Challenged Books gives a list of the top ten challenged books of 2014. I have read two books on this list And Tango Makes Three and The Perks of Being a Wallflower. The list for 2015 doesn’t come out until National Library week in April so be looking for that list in April and see how many of those you have read.
I then read an article called A Dirty Little Secret: Self-Censorship. This article really hit home for me because I self-censor. I’m not going to try and justify myself to those who will read this and wonder why I do it, but I will explain myself. I self-censor because what I read sticks more than what I watch or listen to. I connect with the written word like how people connect with visual learning. I would rather read a biography or autobiography then watch a documentary. When I read something it stays in the back of my mind, which is why I am careful of what I read. I don’t want just anything getting stuck in my head and hiding in the stacks of my brain only to be discovered years later and groan at the fact that I read that book and experienced that feeling whilst reading the book. I have the right not to read and I employ that right when it comes to certain books such as books by Ellen Hopkins.
The first and only book I read by Ellen Hopkins was Identical and for a Christian somewhat sheltered middle schooler who had never read subject matter like that before, it was a rough experience, putting it mildly. My mindset has not changed since then; I reserve the right to not read books that has subject matter I’d rather not fill my mind with. That being said I pick and choose what I read but I do not expect other people to. Almost all of my friends read every single Ellen Hopkins book they could get their hands on and it did not bother me at all. Reader’s Rights!! I’m going to encourage my students to read whatever they want because my personal opinions should not stop them ever. I want to create readers out of my students and that will never work if I tell them what they can and can’t read in my classroom.
However, I strongly encouraging knowing what grade level books are written for and knowing your students. I don’t think we should censor books, but some books are strictly written for older teens not 5th or 6th graders. This is also where knowing your students comes in handy because some 5th or 6th graders could handle a book written for older teens and some can’t. Knowing your students is so important when recommending books.
I want and enjoy stepping out of my comfort zone, but that does not mean I have to read books I am uncomfortable reading.