Hey, remember awhile back when I blogged about Vamos A Cuba, the Cuban books that the Miami Dade school district tried to ban? Well, the news says they're safe... except now the Miami Herald reports political activists are trying to ban ANOTHER Cuban book.
What IS it with Dade County? Is it still the Elian thing?
For more aggravation, consider the Wilsona School District down in L.A., which has made the questionable decision to remove twenty-three books from all district library shelves. "Books now cannot depict drinking alcohol, smoking, drugs, sex, including "negative sexuality," implied or explicit nudity, cursing, violent crime or weapons, gambling, foul humor and "dark content."' Seriously. And if they don't completely remove the book, they're going to Wite-Out the "inappropriate word." (Kudos to Bookshelves of Doom for this.)
Imagine the library shelves! What's left will be riddled with invisible words. Imagine a world without Artemis Fowl. He's cheerfully negative, a criminal mastermind, is quite foully humorous and darkly content. Oh, whoops, I'm sure that's not what they meant... Apparently, PBS Kids' Clifford series has been wrong all along. The Big Red Dog is objectionable as well.
Imagine The Great Gilly Hopkins dotted with Wite-Out.
I imagine the kids reading it will just make up their own words.
You know, I grew up with parents severely opposed to fiction, so I sort of understand that people can mean well when they want you to just concentrate on things that are true and real. (I'm trying, anyway. Work with me, here.) But reality -- which is what drinking, drugs, alcohol, smoking, etc. is -- as depicted in children's fiction is important. It's important that young people see that some people live the same way they do, and deal with the same things. Equally crucial is the realization that other people live in other ways, and that if a reader chooses to live their life differently when they grow up, it's possible. That's truth. How can anyone honestly object to that?
Rarely do I read a book where potentially kid-unfriendly topics are discussed carelessly. If the Wilsona School District wanted to find some specific books that they felt discussed these topics in a controversial way, and put some kind of warning note on the inside cover like "If you don't understand what you're reading, talk to your teacher, or Mom or Dad," that would be one thing -- a big something, actually, because it's hard for me to even see that as something I'd want done to my book, but I understand that some school librarians feel that they've got that responsibility because they're part of a school. But, them trying to make a judgment call about the maturity and the needs of an entire district, and what they should be exposed to in the world... they're making themselves far more important to the lives and the moral development of the children in their district than they really are.
AND, I must ask again: Has everyone on that board read every book they're removing or vandalizing? Of course not.