It’s None of Your Business!!!

Censorship is a double-edged sword. There are several books on the banned books list that I’ve read simply because they were banned whereas I’ve never decided not to read a book because somebody else banned it. I never really paid attention to what book was and was not banned. For most of my life, the bookstore, and occasionally a public library, was where I found most of my new reading material, not a school library.

The only people who censored what I read was my parents. And that’s precisely how it should be.

I don’t think it is right that any single person, or group of people, should be able to decide that a book is inappropriate for the masses. That decision should be between a parent/guardian and his or her children. It should be a boundary that fluctuates as the children grow older and can decide for themselves. Something that isn’t appropriate for a seven year old shouldn’t necessarily be banned from a seventeen year old.

There were several books my parents told me I couldn’t read until I was older, then they pointed me in the direction of other books to read that would have more appropriate content for someone my age but a high enough reading level to challenge me. The problem arose when I’d read through my parents’ collection and still wanted to read more. I was too advanced a reader to read Animorphs or Goosebumps with my classmates and the YA sections at libraries and bookstores didn’t offer the same variety of books they do today. I wanted more than two hundred pages in my books, so I turned to the Sci-Fi and Fantasy section. Picking a book off the shelves, it was impossible to tell from the cover if it was going to be rife with gratuitous sex and violence. The chick in the chainmail bikini on the cover was going to be there regardless of the content on the inside.

Books should be rated and labeled, not banned. Movies do it. Video games do it. Why don’t books? Don’t just slap an arbitrary letter or age on it. Is the rating high because the characters all swear like sailors? Or is it because ten pages in there is a graphic torture scene? Is there more sex than in a romance novel? Give a clear rating of what a reader can expect to find in the book. Put it on the back flap by the bar code.

Then let the parents decide what their kid is ready to be exposed to. Because really, it’s nobody else’s business.

At the age of six, Eliza was certain of two things. The first was that she had stories to tell. The second was that she had no talent for illustrating them herself. Talent or no, she still wrote and illustrated her first book, one that should be located and locked away if only to prevent her parents from embarrassing her terribly by showing it off alongside baby pictures. Now she spends her days writing stories that she isn't embarrassed to show off after a little bit of polishing.

1 Comment

  • Jason Arnett says:

    I’m hesitant of rating books, Amanda. First, who would do the rating? The publishers? According to what guidelines?

    I think that already happens with labels like Young Adult, Children’s, and Religious. To go any farther than that would be dangerous. Fantasy books are more likely to have scenes of violence or sex, Urban Fantasy will likely have ‘swearing’ or ‘cursing’. Those are generalizations, but taking some time to read a review of a book might be a good idea, too.

    It’s all words and encouraging people to dumb down their intellect by looking for a rating is giving in to The Fear. We shouldn’t be afraid of words or their arrangements. Parents should be interested in what their children are reading, or if they’re reading at all.

    Like yours were. Or mine. Like so many used to be.

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