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Book banning has been happening for a long time. Everyone has and is allowed to have different opinions about books and having access to those materials. But if we continue to ban books on a constant basis, then many more students/children get curious about what is contained in those books. They will gain access to materials on their own some other way.
Children ask questions, and they are going to seek out the answers to these questions whether or not we help them.
This list of frequently challenged books will give you an idea of materials being banned.
I have always believed children need access to all types of resources. As a mother of two, I know it is hard to think about my child eventually reading something that has vulgar material included in it. But that doesn’t mean I am going to completely ban them from reading it. If my child has a question about a book that is available to them at the library I am going to take the time to talk to them about the material and content.
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Recently there has been a ban on the book Maus by Art Spiegelman because of its content relating to the Holocaust. These events in history happened. They need to be available for people to read them so those events do not happen again — to anyone.
You may have also seen many more book banning requests have been happening in Texas. One was on a book about Michelle Obama because it contains racism. By restricting access to these stories, we keep students from seeing themselves represented in books, telling them that their stories are “inappropriate” or unimportant.
As a librarian, I have been on the receiving end of parents wanting books removed from the library. Librarians do a lot of research when ordering materials for libraries. They also have guidelines to follow for ordering. There are times when a librarian must decide where a book should be placed within the library. Texas Library Association has a great set of guidelines for school librarians here.
Parents can learn more about banned books during Banned Books Week, which happens in September. It celebrates the freedom to read. The American Library Association (ALA) has a whole webpage with links to other pages about banned books and the right to intellectual freedom.
Below are two books that I had parents request be taken off the shelf during my time as a librarian. They are both sweet books, but these parents didn’t want their child reading about a home where there were two women or two male penguins as the sole parenting figures.
Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman :: A picture book about a kindergartener who goes to school where they all draw pictures of their families and they all are different. They learn that who makes up your family doesn’t matter as long as you all love each other.
And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson :: This picture book shows the true story of two male penguins who take an egg to care for it and then raise the chick together.
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Texas Library Association offers many resources on intellectual freedom if you have more questions about banned books.
We have to help our children have critical thinking about books and what they contain or eventually the representation to see themselves within stories will be taken away.