A fellow librarian texted me something pretty ironic the other day. Her editorial about Banned Books Week, written for a library association newsletter, was censored. It’s important to remember that censorship exists in all circles, even within our profession, and must be challenged as quickly as parents challenging “bad” books.
Happily, I haven’t witnessed any censorship in northern NJ libraries since I arrived last year. However, I am aware of a book being banned from a school curriculum due to complaints in 2012. The Absolutely True Story of Part-Time Indian was removed from Westfield High School due to “inappropriate” content.
Forget that it’s “a story celebrating a love of learning, and the struggle that we all face between making others happy and finding a life worth living; about a young boy trying to find a better life than the one he is destined for.” Forget that it won the 2007 National Book Award and the 2009 Odyssey Award. Forget that high school kids talk about things much worse than the masturbation references in the book.
Our communities need to get back to the focus of what literature represents: the freedom of ideas, and the ability to get readers to discuss and debate the themes of a novel. How can we expect our youth to be adults at 18 if we prevent them from talking about and experiencing real-life content just a couple of years earlier?
Cut the umbilical cord already and support your child’s right to a rounded education. This isn’t a liberal idea. It’s an American one.
And for those librarians who refuse to uphold statement two of the ALA Code of Ethics (“We uphold the principles of intellectual freedom and resist all efforts to censor library resources.”), find a new profession.