Should Parents Limit Literary Choices?

Should parents be able to get books removed from school libraries or reading lists because they find ideas or language in them objectionable? What arguments can you make for or against this?

As a mother, and a lover of knowledge, I can look at this question two ways. From the point of view of a parent, I think that there are boundaries on what my son should be reading. He’s 14 years old, but there is still content that I believe isn’t age appropriate. I absolutely feel as though school districts should know what sort of subject matter is contained within the books they offer, and that some of those options may cross lines parents are not happy with.

This is a hard question for me to appropriately answer, as my son, specifically, has been successfully testing on a 12th grade reading level since he was in the fourth grade. This makes it a little more difficult for me because books on his grade level tend to bore him and are not challenging; however, reading the subject matter within the pages of books on his actual reading level is going to come with some discomfort. With that said, I do believe books available to younger children should be somewhat monitored for content. I won’t pretend I know what age is best to become less strict with availability, but I definitely think some content involving crude language, sexual encounters, etc. should not be optional for younger, elementary school students.

As a lover of knowledge, I also see that my son has the opportunity to learn, grow, and decipher his own world views through what he digests from pages covered with ink. My job, as a parent, is to know I’ve given him the foundation I want him to have, and to navigate what’s right and wrong on his own. I have to know that crude language, and reading about scenarios I’m not necessarily okay with will not change the morals I’ve instilled in him.

I have a child who loves reading, and while I care about the content of the books he reads, I also care that he be exposed to all sorts of literature that will build on his prior knowledge, and contribute to making him a well-rounded young man.

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“Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.” -Margaret Fuller

 

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6 thoughts on “Should Parents Limit Literary Choices?”

  1. I used to run into the same problem as your son a lot when I was younger. I was always really interested in reading and most of my classmates really weren’t so it was hard to find good books that challenged and interested me but that I was allowed to read. I ended up finding a lot great books out there though so I hope he’s also found some good ones too! Also nice quote at the end!

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    1. Sebastion loves Greek mythology, which probably isn’t appropriate in some cases, but there’s definitely a fine line for a parent. I don’t want to “put a lid” on his knowledge, but I’m a mom, so it’s hard not to be cautious about what he intakes.

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      1. I definitely see where you’re coming from. Has he ever read the Percy Jackson series? I picked those up when I was in the fifth grade and loved them then and still love them now! They’re all about Greek mythology and super fun to read.

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  2. Percy Jackson is what started his love for Greek mythology. He is definitely a Rick Riordan fan! We’re very disappointed that they gave up, and only made two movies to parallel the books.

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    1. Maybe Mary Stewart’s Arthurian legend? “Crystal Cave” “Hollow Hills” “Last Enchantment” “Wicked Day” — read all of those around that age.
      I’d get a second opinion, but I think that age might be appropriate for Robert Jordan’s “Wheel of Time” series, only the best fantasy/mystic adverture series made IMHO. Think the dark-side creatures from Tolkien mixed w/ messiah figure of Herbert’s Dune series. If you put down the first book — “The Eye of the World” — after reading the 5th chapter, “Winternight,” I’ll buy it from you.

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