Why I self-censor but don’t expect others to #YALit

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.




12 thoughts on “Why I self-censor but don’t expect others to #YALit

  1. You made some very valid points. In one way or another, we all censor what we read. We read within our comfort zone. Sometimes we stretch that zone further out, but then our guidelines change for our reading censorship.

    Last week I had parent teacher conferences at school. I have a 4th grade student who has seen more in her lifetime than any 4th grader should have to of seen. Her guardian asked about a series that she was interested in reading. Knowing my student, I knew that she was very capable of reading the Accelerated Reading level of this series, but content wise, I knew this student was not quite ready. The guardian and I discussed what the book was about, and we came to the agreement that she was a couple years from reading this series. It truly is important for us to have a wide knowledge of books available to our students and to know our students. At the same time, communicating with parents/guardians at home is crucial to bridge that gap in educating students.


      1. I understand where you’re coming from by not wanting to read books that you don’t agree with. Personally, I don’t read certain books until I feel capable of doing so, and sometimes that means picking them up years after others have finished it, but I would at least like to be familiar with what my students are reading, if not reading it myself, in case they have any questions or concerns about it. What about you?


      2. I definitely want to be able to relate to what my students are reading and be able to give book recommendations. One way I was thinking of doing that was just looking up book reviews. Book reviews give great insight into a book without having to read it. That way I would know if I should recommend it or read it for myself.


  2. The story of the fourth grader is an interesting and controversial element in making choices for the classroom library. We want everyone comfortable with the possible selections we make, but how do we balance that with those who want challenging, mature material to read? It’s never easy, but I understand the difficult choice you had to make.


  3. This was difficult to make, but I felt validated that I was backed up by the guardians who were supporting this student. Ultimately, it wasn’t a big ordeal because the student accepted our decision and moved on to a new series.


  4. This is also something of a struggle for me too. I usually skip past the really bad stuff, but I will not force someone else to not read something because I found something morally wrong. Thank you for this post! I found it very relatable!


  5. As I was writing my blog post, I ran into the same dilemma here. I did love Ellen Hopkins books, but they were so dark and depressing. I tried this summer to read one, and I couldn’t take the heart-break and graphic content that was waiting for me, so I put the book down. I pick and choose what I want to read, just as any other reader will. What’s important is that we don’t infringe that right in our students.


  6. I agree with you. I think it is so crucial to know your students, and be able to recommend what books they can read and which they shouldn’t. Ultimately it is up to them. But as a teacher you are going to influence them a lot so I think that is great you are going to keep your classroom censored and appropriate. Our society needs some moral actions these days! I admire you for that.


    1. Thanks, I was super nervous about this post because I didn’t know what people would think of me self-censoring but it is true as teachers we influence our students choices and personally I wish I had someone other than me guiding my reading. If my teachers had recommended books for my grade level or monitored my reading more I might not have read books above my maturity level.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I admire your passion for reading! I totally understand self-censorship because I , too, am a self-censored reader. My religion is pretty important to me, and though there are some books I have read, and enjoyed, that are on the line, there are some books I would rather not read.I applaud you for speaking out about your beliefs and opinions, not knowing how people will respond! That, my dear, is brave(:


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