Thursday, October 4, 2012
Ban Thee Thy Harry Potter: And All Other Books That Might Possibly Be Problematic
I grew up as a Christian in a fairly conservative area. Harry Potter was considered something 'evil' - something that promoted Wicca and witchcraft and deviant behavior. It was a series that was dangerous and should be avoided and not talked about. I remember going to a prayer thing as part of my youth group and listening to adults talk about how dangerous Harry Potter was - as though if you read it immediately you would catch fire and start 'going down a bad path.'
Now, I don't have a problem with being careful about what you read. I censor myself in what I read based on what I'm comfortable reading - and I don't have a problem with this. And, as I grew up, my mom and sister often read books before me and told me whether or not they thought I should read this. Sometimes they were wrong, but more often they were right. It's something I'm grateful for, because it was me being respectful of my limits.
But that's me knowing my limits, and me being part of a healthy family unit.
I do have a problem when people just decide books are evil when A) They haven't even read them or have done legitimate research on them or talked to someone who has read them to find out what they are actually talking about OR B) It's easier than having a discussion.
Some books are going to contain things like magic, and witches, and religion, and identity, and physical abuse, and things of that nature. And you know what? That's okay. Things like that exist in the world. Instead of just banning books I think that there should be a more open dialogue between adults and Down Unders about what these books are talking about. I know not every child has had or will have a good family unit like I did, but there are librarians, and teachers, and friends, and other mentor people. If we as Adult people were more willing to sit down with kids and say, 'Hey, this is what this book is about. What do you think?' I think there would be none of this silly talk about banning books.
ALSO, I think that Down Unders should be respected at their level of comfort. Some Down Unders are going to be at a point where they are okay with more violence and touchy subjects, while others are going to want to learn about ponies and butterflies and dinosaurs that are friends. And that's okay. Every Down Under is going to want and need different levels of okayness.
If Wombly is uncomfortable reading books about dynamite does that mean all books about dynamite, or containing dynamite, should be banned. Um. No. It means that he should tell me that and we can discuss dynamite together and find out what other books he likes. And if I'm uncomfortable reading books about pumpkins does that mean I should stop all Down Unders (including Wombly) from reading books about pumpkins? Um. Definitely no. Wombly really loves books about pumpkins and is fine and emotionally ready to read books about pumpkins. So. I should let him read books about pumpkins and not hide them from him.
It comes down to communication, and respect, and trust. Communicate with your Down Unders, know their interests and limits and levels of comfortableness. Respect your Down Under: Down Unders are people too and deserve just as much respect as anyone else. Trust your Down Under. Because your openness to communication, willingness to respect, and openness to trust will probably be the best thing a Down Under needs in deciding what books they're ready to read.