Banned Books Week celebrates "the freedom to read" but also, for me as a writer, it celebrates the freedom to speak, to communicate, to lift up your voice. When a book is banned, it means the writer of that book is diminished--his or her voice is judged by others as a voice that should not be heard. This thought makes me feel frustrated, angry and simply saddened, not just for those whose opinions are devalued but by those who appoint themselves judge and jury of ideas and think that they are somehow winning.
Why do those who ban CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS make me both sigh and laugh? As the mother of three teenagers, I am quite certain that things that are banned hold a certain tantalizing appeal for young adults (read THE BOOK THIEF and you'll see what I mean). I have long stopped admiring myself for parenting my eldest because it turns out he was just an easy kid. When I said "we don't go to R-rated movies," he was fine with it so WE didn't. When I told my next son "we don't..." he nodded, smiled and snuck into one with his friends. So, yeah.
What about school? Well, if your kids watch the bizarre weirdness of Dora the Explorer and Thomas the Tank Engine (that sh** it creepy), I really think they can handle THE HUNGER GAMES and LOOKING FOR ALASKA. And if they don't find those titles in their school library, be assured teens are more than capable of getting their hands on a copy of a book--it's even easier than getting beer for the party they're going to when they tell you they're spending Friday night at their church youth group.
So, here's my suggestion for what to to do instead of being a book-banning bully:
TEACH YOUR CHILDREN THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN FACT AND FICTION.
TEACH YOUR CHILDREN TO STAND UP FOR WHAT THEY BELIEVE IS RIGHT AND GOOD.
TALK TO YOUR CHILDREN ABOUT WHAT YOU READ (including in the newspaper which we might all agree is useful reading and is loaded with horrible stories about radical militants and diseases and tragedies and advertisements for all kinds of materialistic things we shouldn't covet) and ASK THEM ABOUT WHAT THEY ARE READING to MODEL THE VALUE OF THOUGHTFUL CONSIDERATION OF MULTIPLE VIEWPOINTS.
And then let 'em read whatever they want to read.