Book banning: Parents should have the final say
Published 1:37 pm Tuesday, October 3, 2023
The battle between parental oversight and freedom of expression continues to brew on the shelves of Tennessee public school libraries as more bills are passed to tighten the consequences for books with “obscene content” – spurring further book bans and heated debate.
Parents and community members have drawn attention to the so-called “banned” books due to their sexually explicit content. Parents are understandably concerned about libraries offering books that school board members admit are too explicit to be read aloud at public meetings.
Parents have the right to raise concerns about library and classroom books. Children are not mere creatures of the state, and parents do not simply turn children over to government schools with the assumption that the school will make every decision – without parental input – on what the child will read. When parents see the American Library Association, the organizations that bestow awards upon aggressively woke and sexually explicit books, and the school librarians purchasing and featuring developmentally inappropriate books, parents can and should speak up.
When parents and grandparents of today were in school, there was no reason to question books their children read because the content of the books their children were reading was not questioned. But, 2023 is a different day and time.
The new Tennessee law passed earlier this year puts book publishers, sellers and distributors at risk of prosecution for providing written materials to the state’s public schools that may at any point be deemed obscene.
Books are banned in the country for a variety of reasons, mainly because of sexual content (92.5% percent of books on the list); offensive language (61.5%); unsuited to age group (49%); religious viewpoint (26%); LGBTQIA+ content (23.5%); violence (19%); racism (16.5%); and use of illegal substances (12.5%).
Books are usually banned or challenged with the best intentions – to protect others, frequently children, from difficult ideas and information. Censorship can be subtle, almost imperceptible, as well as blatant and overt, but, nonetheless, harmful.
For instance, the Bible could be banned if it is to protect children from sexual content…it has reports of incest, murder, theft, and is filled with violence. However, we cannot read one chapter or one story and leave it there. It is a story that is full of teachings that have a moral teaching and from cover to cover it is filled with righteous teachings.
As the old saying goes, we cannot judge a book by its cover, nor can we judge a book by a few pages. We must take the whole book into consideration. For sure, there are some books that even some adults should not be reading, let alone children. But, we must be careful about banning books because we disagree on the subject content or because our legislature bans it. Read it for yourself, and decide if your children should be subjected to its content.
Book banning is a serious thing, but banning a book just because we do not like it or its author or because of politics is not the right reason for banning books.
Banning books can have detrimental effects on students’ educational experiences. History has shown that the practice can limit students’ exposure to different perspectives, stifle critical thinking, and hinder their understanding of important societal issues.
Book bans create a culture of fear in society, says Emily Knox, National Coalition Against Censorship Board president. Teachers grow unsure of what they can say in a classroom. Writers question whether they should write about a certain topic for fear of becoming a target.
We do urge parents to be aware of what their children are reading, and they should decide if their children should be reading it. Parents should have the final say on what their children read – not government.