ComicMix’s very own Tweeks announced their Summer Reading Challenge, reading banned and challenged graphic novels. It struck me as a fantastic idea and a great way to encourage people of all ages to try something new. But their challenge also brought up the fact that I never understood the concept of banning books.
I grew up in a house where everything was fair game. Nothing was off limits or banned, especially books. I could read anything and everything I could get my hands on. I read outside of my age range often and if I had questions, my parents were there to answer them or direct me to someone that could. When I went through my Chaim Potok phase, a member of my synagogue made time just to answer my questions. No one seemed to mind that I was reading books written for adults at the age of 12. They trusted me and my parents to make the correct decision for me.
In looking over the reading list, the week 1 book really caught my eye. Bone Vol. 1 by Jeff Smith, also known as a go-to book series for young readers was a challenged book. Not only did that surprise me, it finally gave me a reason to read it. (It had been on my reading list but that list is too long.) After reading it, I had a laundry list of talking points that completely agree with The Tweeks. In a nutshell, grownups are sheltering kids.
Adults often forget how much kids see, hear and experience from the world around them. Books are the least concern. The 6pm evening news is more graphic and offensive than Bone Vol. 1. And parents today forget that kids have access to the web; something they never did. Even with parental controls, kids can discover adult topics on the internet. They are going to find out about drugs, sex, alcohol and politics one way or another. By hiding it, a message is sent that it is wrong to explore the world. It would be so much better if they were met with guidance instead of shaming. Lack of knowledge is what hurts people the most.
Parents seem so concerned to keep their kids from discovering the different aspects of the world. Sometimes that is the right move. Not every book is for everyone. But I am glad no one made the decision for me.