Let’s Celebrate Reading

I am not comfortable around strident people. Individuals who so strongly believe what they believe that not only will they shout down the ideas of others so they don’t have to listen and no one can hear, but they dismiss the “nonbelievers” as “less than” equal and worse … pass that venom onto others.

I am not talking about online book events, I am not talking about people of faith who avow brotherhood but will not shake the hands of someone who does not believe what they do, I’m not even talking about politicians … I am talking about people who know so much about what’s good for us (and our kids) that we don’t need to think for ourselves, learn, or parent our children.

celebrateBooksToday opens Banned Book Week, or as I prefer to call it Celebrate Reading Week. Each year, during the last week of September we (parents, teachers, librarians, booksellers, et al) celebrate the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment.  Some folks fall on one side of the proverbial divide, some on the other.

So where is the middle ground? Mitali Perkins (whom I adore) asked me in a Tweet if I knew of a “well-written article that advocates a parent’s rights to choose books for kids and yet doesn’t promote banning?” And you know what, I couldn’t find much. I love Dawn Morris’ post Why Parents Should Read YA Books.  Here’s why.

  • It offers ideas on ways to use books to talk about subjects you may not personally be comfortable with (or even agree on).
  • It doesn’t use any form of the word ban.
  • It doesn’t speak to the right, freedom, or privelege of reading.
  • It talks about our responsibility as parents to help our children engage the world responsibly … and letting them set their moral compass.

I also like Kate Messner’s post about Heading Off Book Challenges. It’s got that word that sets up a position (challenge), but it offers a discussion about books and why we need to let readers select and walk through doors we might not open ourselves.  Her focus is school, but her thoughts fit just as comfortably on your shelves at home.

But you know what? That’s ALL I could find. I tried searching the topic from lots of angles, but everything is about banning, judging, exluding, protesting, etc. Where are the articles on guiding and engaging?

Since I started looking for information, I haven’t been able to get Mitali’s question off my mind.  I was collecting links for Monday’s Children’s Literacy and Reading News Roundup, but I’ve decided to include them here, instead. Here are some of my faves so far

  • Natasha Maw has linkage galore in I Read Banned Books Do You?
  • Catherine has Eight Ironclad Rules for Banning Books at Words Worlds and Wings. Very clever!

Susan Kessel made my morning when I read Day One of the Best Week Ever AKA Banned Book Week.  Her opening line says it all … without picking sides, without naming names, without pointing to the Constitution, just celebrating reading:

Today is the beginning of the best week all year for promoting books with young readers.

Thanks Mitali. You gave me food for thought! We’ll have to get together, grab some pie, and talk books one day soon!

11 responses to “Let’s Celebrate Reading

  1. Excellent and very thoughtful roundup for the first day of Banned Books Week. Mitali’s question is a great one. Absolutely, parents have a responsibility to help guide their children’s reading and help them learn what good books are and what their tastes are–and help them learn how to choose for themselves. Banning books does not serve that purpose.

    Anyway, thanks for the food for thought!!

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  3. Sarah – “…help them learn what good books are and what their tastes are …” Yeah! Sometimes we get so wrapped up in looking for lessons that we forget to celebrate literature for what it is. Thanks for your thoughts and the retweet!

  4. Oh, how nice to see a balanced viewpoint. You’re right, I think we should focus more on the positive and less on the negative. And, frankly, I find it irritating when people tell me I should read books just “because they’ve been banned.” Um…I thought the point was to read what’s right for you? And although I don’t in any way agree with banning books, I have a lot of sympathy for parents who are trying to select appropriate books for their children.

  5. Definitely we will meet soon, eat pie, and talk books. Thanks so much for your diligent pursuit of answers to my question, and I appreciate your articulation of the tension. How do we balance our passion for and commitment to intellectual freedom with an individual parent’s right to guide and raise his or her child, tween, or teen? Is there a guide for educators … and parents?

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