Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Reflection #4: Censorship & Banned Books

Censorship and banned books are issues that we, as librarians, will always have to deal with. This was very thoroughly discussed in the readings for this week (the four articles and two books).

First, the article on children's views of censorship had some great points. I found it incredibly interesting that Sarah, one of the children used in this study, felt that censorship as a whole was negative because "reading, like is good for people and you should be able to read whatever you want." but she then goes on to explain that some material should be available in the library, but limited to a particular audience (like older kids). The overwhelming idea from the students was that parents should not be able to place limits on what children read, even if some thought that they could stop them if it was "really bad." As librarians, we have to make the literature available to everyone, but make sure that it is in the appropriate location (this was agreed on by the kids as well).

Another article this week, "Issues and Trends in Intellectual Freedom for Teacher Librarians," focused more on labeling books for content and even having to remove them from the library because of content. The big phrase in this article was "The more things change, the more they stay the same." We have all of this developing technology, which is awesome, but our thought processes are still staying the same when it comes to controversial material. One librarian reported that they have had five titles removed from their school librarian because of content, and while that is up to the director, it still is unfair that we have to censor material.

The other two articles have to do with a book that has been challenged multiple times because of its content - And Tango Makes Three - a picture book that delves into LGBTQ themes. While the book is carefully researched, contains endearing characters, and is very well-developed from a literary standpoint, it makes some readers/patrons uncomfortable because it is targeting young children (being a picture book). When reading the article about the creators of the book, it is clear that there was an agenda in making a book like this. One of the authors, Justin, made it his goal to provide support to queer students while at Harvard and jumped on this project. While I don't agree with this being for younger children, and I'm not a supporter of the LGBTQ scene, I do not think that we should censor any material. I'm a big advocate of having all available information out there and patrons can pick and choose what they want from what we have.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is another book that has been challenged because of its content involving witchcraft and wizardry. I find this absolutely preposterous. There are tons of books that are within this fantastic world and this particular series was targeted because of it's popularity.

Censorship shouldn't happen and books should not be banned. Period. If a kid can see that, we, as librarians, should see that as well.

Bibliographic Information:

Isajlovic-Terry, N., & McKechnie, L. (2012). An Exploratory Study of Children's Views of Censorship. Children & Libraries: The Journal of the Association for Library Service to Children, 10(1), 38-43.
Macock, A. (2011). Issues and Trends in Intellectual Freedom for Teacher Librarians. Teacher Librarian, 39(1), 8-12.
Magnuson, M.L. (2010). Perceptions of Self and the "Other": An Analysis of Challenges to And Tango Makes Three. School Library Media Research, 131-139.
Richardson, J., & Parnell, P. (2005). And Tango Makes Three. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Rowling, J.K. (1999). Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. New York: Scholastic.
Storts-Brinks, K. (2010). Censorship Online. Knowledge Quest, 39(1), 22-28.
Young, C.A. (2011). Creating a Controversial Picturebook: Discussions with the Creators of And Tango Makes Three. Journal of Children's Literature, 37(2), 30-38.