Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Children Think For Themselves

A common reason used for banning, removing, reclassifying, labeling or restricting books is that the controversial content within them will come into the hands of children.

This is usually used on Young Adult books, not adult books. So I'll be talking about YA books for this particular post.

Most libraries have a children's section and a young adult(or teen) section separate from eachother. The teen section is usually classified as 12 or 13 and up. There's an obvious reason for this, teens are very different from children, in interests, behaviours, experiences and especially maturity. The books reflect this. That's why the YA section is separate from the children's section to begin with.

I already covered mature content in my 'Perks of Being A Wallflower' post so I won't go on about that again.

The YA section is usually near the children's section and quite a few people seem to worry about children wandering into the YA section and reading books that aren't appropriate for them. That doesn't happen. Maybe once in a blue moon but it's hardly a common occurence. Why?

1) Children that should be reading books in the children's section aren't going to be interested in books in the YA section. They're usually of considerable length, have no pictures, are above their reading level, and often have pretty dull covers (Side note: Can we stop giving publishers stock photos of teenage girls in tank tops? Please?). They are designed to be marketed to teens, not children.

2) Children know what's inappropriate for them. A bit of personal experience here. When I was a wee one, I was honestly a little scared of the "Young Adult" and "Adult" sections. It's children's logic, "Adult means grown-up. Those are for grown-ups, they must be scary." Maybe that was just me, but most children understand what "adult" means.

3) If it bothers them, they'll put it down. Kids may not have had much life experience, but they're definitly smart enough to stop reading something if they don't like it. If it bothers them, they'll stop reading it and move onto something else. Simple as that. I did this once or twice when I was little, although the books I put down were "Scary story" books but it takes all kinds.

So frankly, all this "Think of the children!" jabber needs to stop. for the reasons above and because it's simply an excuse for censorship. If you're concerned about your children reading something inappropriate, go with them to the library and supervise them. I've said it before and I'll say it again: The public library is there to serve EVERYONE, what you consider inappropriate someone else will consider wonderful, and it is YOUR job to parent YOUR children.

Our local library actually has a policy that says that no children under 9 years of age are allowed to be left alone in the library unsupervised. Thank you.

P.S. Angel_of_Death and I are going on holiday this upcoming weekend and school starts shortly after that. Our blog posts will be slightly less frequent but we'll try to update often. Cheers :)!

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